If you are a professional who relies on his or her creativity to make a steady income, you probably are no stranger to the elusive “mental block”. Whether you are a writer, a designer, a photographer, an artist or a musician, mental block spares none of us.
You find yourself staring at a blank screen (a blank sheet of paper or a blank canvas, whatever may be your case) and thinking to yourself, “Is this the end of the road for me because I am all out of fresh, inspiring ideas”?
It’s true that a creative mental block becomes an impediment in your way, delaying the process and bringing with it tons of frustration and anger. The harder you try to feel ‘inspired’, the harder it gets to get back on track without distractions. But is it the end of your career? No, it’s not. In fact, a creative mental block is nothing more than a minor speed bump, one that you can and will power through.
These are my top tips toovercome a creative mental block and get back on the horse. I hope they help you out too!
6 Tips To Overcome Mental Block To Inspire Creativity
First of all, understand that a creative job is always a challenging job, and sometimes conflicted feelings regarding the subject can make it very difficult for you to focus on your ideas and your thoughts and to convert them in to workable ideas. Or, you have all the facts in place but simply do not know where to begin because you don’t have yet cracked the framework of your idea. In the end, you want your creative work to make an impressive impact, but you feel ‘stuck’ within your thoughts and do not know how to begin afresh.
Don’t worry; these are all normal in any creative professional’s journey. All you need is to engage in the right strategies to overcome the tiresome mental block.
1. Step away from your desk
If you find yourself in the middle of a full-blown creative block, it will be fruitless to search for new inspiration within the ideas you have penned down, which are obviously not taking you anywhere. Sometimes, you feel stuck because your life isn’t balanced, and the repercussions are presenting themselves in the form of a mental block. This happens to me a lot, especially when I am tired and haven’t been sleeping and exercising well enough. Therefore, the best way to power through is to step away.
Take a break; go for a jog, head to the gym, practice some yoga or simply walk around the block and stop thinking of the problems lying on your desk. As your blood starts pumping with some physical exertion, you will find your creative juices flowing as well. For some, listening to inspirational music does the trick. If the music truly moves you, it can jolt your thoughts and push you in the right direction.
2. Get off the web
If you find yourself turning to the web to idle away time, and in the process come across 10 more ideas online that all look promising, all you will do is confuse yourself further. If your research for your creative piece is complete, it is best to stay away from the internet for a while.
You want the words you write to be your own, the designs you create to be inspired by your own ideas, and not be ‘borrowed thoughts’ that you will feel inclined to change an hour later. To overcome a mental block, sometimes you need to get disconnected from the world in order to really focus on the job at hand without any distractions to break your flow of thoughts.
3. Try a little change
If a little exercise did not do the trick, maybe a change of surroundings will do the job. Starring at the blank wall facing your desk will not do much for your creativity, so it might be a good idea to try a new location. Take your laptop out in to the garden or settle down to write on the rooftop.
Swapping your monotonous surroundings can sometimes do wonders for your creative inspiration. It always works for me….especially if I am in a setting close to nature with some fresh air to revive my senses. Nature can truly be the best inspiration for any creative activity. However, make sure that you find a quiet, distraction-free space so that you can productively get your piece of work done without worrying about anything else.
4. Conceptualize your thoughts
Sometimes your thoughts are really all over the place. And what you need is a strong concept to begin with, as that is the very foundation of your creative work. The best way to brainstorm when stuck in a mental block is to try free-writing. All that means is that you take 10 – 15 minutes to just write freely. Jot down the main points that come to your mind immediately, and don’t bother to connect the ideas at this point of time. You shouldn’t be worried about presentation, vocabulary, flow of ideas etc at this point; simply concentrate on getting all your thoughts on the subject listed down.
It can be few words, even diagrams, quotes, pictures or anything else that you might want to record, even if it isn’t directly related to the subject you are working on. After the ten minutes are over, go over your notes. The inspiration will be right there! Not only would you have jotted down what you want to focus on, you might have also listed the distractions keeping you from writing. Free-writing is the best way to clear your thoughts, get all ideas on paper, and jot down your thoughts without striving for perfection. Sometimes, you are trying to perfect your ideas before you really have a solid plan and that itself could actually be the impediment in your path! Once your ideas are listed down, you can now arrange them the way you like and start elaborating on them to create a more polished draft of your work.
5. Start working first thing in the morning
If you spent the previous day mulling over your thoughts, unable to get any productive work done, it is possible that you might try to ‘delay’ the assignment until you feel you are ‘ready’. This is one of the worst things to do. If you want to learn how to overcome a creative mental block, make sure you follow a simple rule: When stuck, start working the first thing in the morning.
Don’t delay the process by checking mail, reading the newspaper leisurely or catching up with friends to feel ‘relaxed’ first. It is very possible that your subconscious brain found solutions to your problem while you were trying to fall asleep. It is always better to be proactive; tackle the hardest chores first thing in the morning when you are fresh and alert, and work your way from there to easier stuff later on in the day.
6. Do something else
Most serious professionals have more than one on-going project at hand. If you have the luxury of time to finish this troublesome piece of work later, it is best to give it a rest for the day. Work on something else, something totally unrelated so that you are at least using your time productively. You can get back to the ‘problem child’ on your hands later in the day or the next day with a fresh perspective. More often than not, when you aren’t consciously thinking about problem-solving, the right inspiration will hit you more naturally.
While it is important to learn how to overcome a creative mental block, you have to understand that at the end of the day, this is just another job. Yes, it might require some creativity, but you have the luxury to come back and make changes in something you aren’t 100% satisfied with at any point of time.
So instead of being stuck at a tough part, just keep working. The more you work, the easier it will get to continue further. Just be sure to circle the parts you are doubtful about, and come back to them later to make some inspiring changes for a project fruitfully completed to perfection!
You might also like to read: Get Creative To Improve Your Mental Health