8 ways to defeat creative block

8 ways to defeat creative block

When your mind is out of ideas and low on creative fuel, try these methods to help you get out of a creative rut.

By Kay Lynn Chua

If you’re a creative professional, the chances are that from time to time, you’ve probably found yourself in this sticky situation – having a creative block. We’ve all been there before; staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration to kick in to start capturing your bright ideas. As minutes past and the enthusiasm fades, the artist block seems impossible to get out of.

Here are 6 ways to avoid lingering in your artist block for too long so that the creative juices can start flowing again.

1. Set yourself a challenge

A sketchbook drawing challenge is a month-long prompt list that presents you with a new prompt every day. Prompts like ‘Camouflage’, “Tape”, and “Rip it” allow artists to interpret these signifiers in any way they want. For example, if a prompt reads “Circles” you could collage cut-outs of circular pictures you found in a magazine or create a pop art portrait in a Roy Lichenstein style. The possibilities are endless.  

Starting a sketchbook drawing challenge allows your mind to experiment and play with ideas and materials in a low-stress, fun and mind-stretching way. Follow TinkerLab and Drawing Challenges on instagram to unclog your artist block now.

2. Work in short intervals

Taking strategic breaks to improve your productivity will get your out of your dry spell in a jiffy. Enter: The Pomodoro Technique. This time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s enables you to power through your artist block by breaking down work into 25 minute intervals.

The technique works like this:

  1. Choose a task
  2. Set a timer to 25 minutes
  3. Work on the task
  4. Stop working on the tasks when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper
  5. If you have less than four checkmarks, take a 3-5 minute break then go to step 2
  6. After four intervals take a 15-30 minute break, reset your checkmarket to count zero, then go to step 1.
3. Use idea-generating apps

Think, shuffle, tap, spark, add, choose. These are the simple steps for using Brainsparker. This app uses cards to generate prompts like “Imagine”, “Quickly sketch 3 ideas” and “Try the opposite” that vary from a single word, call to action, quote, question or even a photo. Using this free app could trigger new ideas to overcome your artist block.

Price: Free

Writing Prompts is a phone app that generates prompts to fuel your muse. Shake or swipe your device and it will give you a writing prompt chosen from categories such as scene, sketches, texts, news, and words. For example, a scene will include a place, character, object, and mood. If what is generated interests you you can add it into a favourites tab and be well on your way to creating.

Price: RM7.90

4. Tailor a playlist

Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

Shake it off! Don’t let your creative blocks get you down. One of the easiest ways to excite your creativity is to use music as an inspiration. Here is a tip: Keep a playlist at hand of your favourite tunes that make you feel motivated. According to a study, listening to happy music may help generate more innovative solutions compared to listening to silence.

Take a break, clear your mind, and groove yourself out of that tedious loop of blank page syndrome.

5. Clean your studio

Photo by Khara Woods on Unsplash

Take a look around the space you are working in. Do you see a pile of used paper? Dirty brushes waiting to be cleaned? If the answer is yes then your artist block may be caused by your messy studio. Researchers found that a space that is more cluttered causes the person inhabiting it to experience a depressed mood throughout the day.

Cleaning your studio is a great way to blow off some frustration, declutter your working space and even get some exercise.

6. Use downtime to market yourself

If the left side of your brain just doesn’t seem to be working, try switching to the right. Take time off from creating and see your artist block as an opportunity to move away from the studio to market yourself. Whether it is updating your artist instagram account, building a website, or pitching your work to galleries, using your device on the job never felt so right.

Cover photo by Freepik

A fine art graduate, Kay Lynn Chua splits her time between being an artist and a business development executive at a gallery in Kuala Lumpur.