5 Resources for Overcoming Creative Block

by | Sep 21, 2015

At some point, it happens to every creator. The curse of the blinking cursor, the taunting white palette, the complete mental “blank.” At best, creative block can be frustrating. At worst, it can result in lost clients…and a lot of lost time.

Here’s a list of resources for overcoming creative block, with highlights from each piece.

1. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

In this TED talk, Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, shares what happened after her book became a breakaway success. Strangers began approaching Gilbert as if she was doomed, asking if she was afraid that she’d never be able to “top” her previous creative accomplishment.

Gilbert shares how she was able to keep pursuing her creative work, despite the mounting pressures.

Highlight:

You know, I think that allowing somebody, one mere person to believe that he or she is like, the vessel, you know, like the font and the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, eternal mystery is just a smidge too much responsibility to put on one fragile, human psyche. It’s like asking somebody to swallow the sun. It just completely warps and distorts egos, and it creates all these unmanageable expectations about performance. And I think the pressure of that has been killing off our artists for the last 500 years.

Click here to watch the complete talk, or to access the transcript, from TED.com.

2. 20 Ways to Overcome Creative Block

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Wally Gator” by Monsta Julien (Image via Behance)

From the aptly named design blog Creativebloq, this list includes 20 tips to keep the creative juices flowing. Things like: always carry a sketchbook, buy essay,  put some fun in your studio, and don’t be afraid to step away.

Highlight:

Try different working environments to keep things fresh. Sketch at home or on the train, refine final work in your studio, and brainstorm in coffee shops, for instance.

Click here to view the complete post.

3. Advice from Artists on How to Overcome Creative Block, Handle Criticism, and Nurture Your Sense of Self-Worth

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Everything Is Going to Work Out” by Lisa Congdon (Image via Lisacongdon.com)

This Brain Pickings piece by blogger and serial curator Maria Popova talks about the book Creative Block: Advice and Projects from 50 Successful Artistsan illustrated guide that “asks artists from around the world working in various media to crack open the vault of their unconscious and explore the darkest elements of the creative process, from overcoming idea-stagnation to dealing with both self-criticism and external naysayers.”

Highlight, from artist Lisa Congdon:

Choose one thing you love to draw or paint (and feel comfortable drawing or painting) already: an animal, object, a person, whatever. For thirty days, draw or paint that thing thirty different ways, a different way every day. You can use different mediums, expressions, positions, colors, whatever. Each day, push yourself to do something much different than the day before, but keep the subject the same. See how keeping one element constant (in this case, the “thing” you love to draw or paint) can allow you to break out creatively in other ways. — Lisa Congdon

Click here to read the complete post.

4. Powerful Ways to Overcome Creative Block

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PoketRoket App illustration by Munjifull (Image via Behance)

In this piece from Entrepreneur, contributor Sean Kim writes, “It’s 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night. You’ve been digging away for the past six hours and this might be your best work yet. You’re so close to breaking through — then you hit a wall.”

It’s something we’ve all experienced, but how do we work to overcome it?

Highlight:

Most of us are sitting down, staring at a screen for eight-hours a day. Changing our current state of environment and breaking the routine is the quickest and most effective way to begin activating new parts of your brain … Exercise allows your conscious mind to access fresh ideas that are buried in the subconscious. Go for a walk, run, or even try some yoga poses, as long as it’s keeping your mind off of the task at hand.

To read the complete post, click here.

5. Why Creativity Blocks Happens (and How to Overcome Them)

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The gears of creativity (Image via LifeHacker)

Is creativity a special gift that only some people are born with? In this LifeHacker piece, writer Iris Shoor explains that coming up with fresh ideas is a skill that can be learned.

Highlight:

A powerful tactic to overcome this is taking a project and breaking it down into smaller pieces. Once you stop looking at your project as a whole, things don’t look as obvious as they were before. Write down a list of all the elements in your current project—presentation topics, blog post paragraphs, web site elements, and more. Then focus on one part at a time and change just that one. The most interesting thing about this tactic is that just dividing a project into a discrete list of elements will help ideas to start flowing. Once you have your list you can do wonders with it.

Click here to read the whole piece, which includes lots of actionable examples!

Do you have tips of your own for overcoming creative block? Share them with us in the comments, or tweet to @notesondesign.

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