7 Tips to Stop a Creative Mental Block

get-past-creative-blockCreativity is a great asset and is essential to the success of any great project. When it’s “on” everyone is happy but when creativity escapes you, it’s time to bring in the big guns. It’s important to realize that everyone goes through this so here are some tips from me to you that will help jumpstart your creativity.

1. Assess the Situation
When you’re struggling creatively, it’s extremely important to take a step back and identify the root of the problem. You can really only find a solution if you know why you’re having the problem.

2. Ask Yourself Questions
I’ve always found that I can work through my problems by asking myself a series of questions from the standpoint of rationality. This will speed up the process of finding the problem and more importantly, finding a solution. The questions could be anything like “what are the 3 factors that are causing this problem?” When you ask these questions, it’s important to answer them honestly, even if you find out the problem lies with you.

3. Work on a Personal Project
When it comes to a creative block, the road to recovery can take a while. During these times, it’s really important to not get “burned out” on the project and completely frustrated. You can do this by stepping away and working on something that you’re not only interested in, but also passionate about. This will help you understand that it’s not just you and that you’re capable of being creative. You’ll quickly go back to the project that’s giving you trouble with a fresh perspective.

4. Don’t Be Intimidated
This is a big one for me. When I’m really struggling with a project and the people around me are becoming more and more demanding, it’s really easy to get in a rut of nervousness or fear that you’re not going to complete the task. Don’t worry and push back against that notion. A little bit of confidence in your skill and creativity goes a long way when dealing with pushy and demanding people. Just push back and realize that you’re awesome.

5. Remember Past Successes
There’s no better way to develop the confidence in your creativity than remembering all of the amazing projects you’ve worked on in the past. Step away from the project for a minute and just reflect on the little details of what has shaped your career and all of the successes you’ve had. You’ll soon become energized and able to push through any creative block that’s standing in your way.

6. Scribble
When I’m stuck in a creative bubble and can’t seem to find my way out, I always find that stepping away from the project and scribbling some simple concepts and ideas on paper always helps me quickly brainstorm new ways of thinking about and solving the problem.

7. Talk it Out
Getting someone else’s thoughts or opinions is a great way to see the problem from someone else’s eyes who isn’t stuck in a creative block. Usually, getting one or two more sets of eyes is a great way to push past any creative block you might have.

Really, there are many ways to deal with a creative mental block. It all comes down to how you handle it and a keep problem solving ability that will allow you to thrive and avoid the trap of wasting too much time with very little to show for your efforts.

Did we miss some suggestions or different ways to push past a creative block? Do you have some amazing methods of working through a creative problem? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Matt Boyd is co-founder of Sqwiggle, an app designed to make remote working more awesome. Follow him and his journey as a remote worker and distributed team builder at http://blog.sqwiggle.com or http://www.twitter.com/mattboyd

Comments

  1. A very informative post as always! Thank you for pointing out some great thoughts on dealing with a creative mental block. Nice share!

  2. When working on my own books, I’ve found that the creative block is usually just a “still processing… please wait” message from the back of my brain. The question becomes: why is this taking so long? It’s not like I do or have done anything special to make it work most of the time. It’s just there. I figure it’s all put together in the background when I’m doing something else, and when I need it, out it comes.
    Gale I. Rios recently posted…No last blog posts to return.My Profile

    • Cathy Stucker
      Twitter:
      says:

      Gale, brain science backs you up on that! The creative processes of your brain often work best when you are doing something else and not actively thinking about the problem you are trying to solve.

      When you follow the steps in Matt’s article you are giving your brain the raw materials it needs to work. Then stand back and watch it create!

      Thanks for the comment!
      Cathy Stucker recently posted…Free NewsletterMy Profile

  3. Obligation is my most frustrating creative block. As long as a project is voluntary, I bubble over with creative energy and impassioned execution. But the moment I commit myself in a formal, on-the-hook fashion, a metal gate slams shut between me and my creative drive.
    Angie Ellison recently posted…No last blog posts to return.My Profile

    • Cathy Stucker
      Twitter:
      says:

      Angie, that’s interesting. Have you found ways to motivate yourself and get your creative process back in gear? Obviously, there are lots of times when we have deadlines and commitments that must be honored. For some people, having a deadline is motivating but it doesn’t sound like that works for you.

      If you are self-employed, you could allow yourself to work on whatever excites you at any given time. That is actually what I am going to be doing for several days this week and next. It is not something I can do all the time, but I am looking forward to having about a week where I can work on whatever attracts my interest.
      Cathy Stucker recently posted…Tips for Getting Free PublicityMy Profile

  4. When working on my own books, I’ve found that the creative block is usually just a “still processing… please wait” message from the back of my brain. The question becomes: why is this taking so long? It’s not like I do or have done anything special to make it work most of the time. It’s just there. I figure it’s all put together in the background when I’m doing something else, and when I need it, out it comes.
    Molly D. Lowery recently posted…No last blog posts to return.My Profile

    • Cathy Stucker
      Twitter:
      says:

      Molly, often the best way to come up with a way to break through a block is to stop trying! It frees the brain to be creative in the background, as you say. Take a walk, take a shower, do something far removed from the thing you have been working on, and the answer comes.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Cathy Stucker recently posted…7 Tips to Stop a Creative Mental BlockMy Profile

  5. This is great advice, whenever I am having a mental block I step away (far away) because, I have learned a costly lesson. Three years ago I was having trouble getting a bit of code to work, but because I would not listen to my wife and step away or sleep on the problem I threw my laptop out the window (shrug) about an hour after my laptop (jumped out the window) I figured out what I was doing wrong with my codes. From that time on I will just step away, go to the gym and spar a few rounds, or run a few miles to clear my head, I would do anything that will take me away from my computer for a few hours maybe a few days.
    C.A Brown recently posted…Small Businesses SolutionMy Profile

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