Creative block is an issue that confronts all creative people, across all disciplines from time to time. From Shakespeare to Sade, even the greatest creative minds have had to deal with it. Frustrating as it can be, deadlines must be met and work must be produced. Many creatives develop their own unique ways of overcoming such a block. Here are five tried and tested tips to help Creative Entrepreneurs spark creativity and conquer the block.
Overcoming the Emotional Barrier
Producing creative work can be a deeply emotional, confrontational exchange with yourself. Many creatives feel overwhelmed, embarrassed and even estranged from the creative process when it does not flow naturally. There can often be a self-imposed pressure to make all of your creative output your best possible work, which can stifle productivity and creative flow, leading to further procrastination and unfinished work.
Try not to be your own worst critique, and accept that the best creative ideas arise from an iterative process. Facing the fear is sometimes the only way to see the process through. Even though the initial phase might be uncomfortable, the creative gains will be worth it. In fact, using discomfort to fuel work might also have some interesting results!
Don’t be Afraid to Step Away
It is completely natural to encounter self-doubt when embarking on a new creative project; we often wonder if our ideas carry the desired impact, find ourselves questioning if there is too much or too little originality, authenticity or spark, and may even consider whether the entire approach we have taken should be scrapped and started afresh.
Don’t be afraid to leave the work for some time and engage in other activities. Giving yourself space and time to reflect on your work away from the pressure of having to be productive can be useful, and might subconsciously inform many of the questions you have about your work. Even if you don’t have a creative epiphany, relaxing the mind is healthy and will allow you to be more at ease with yourself and ultimately, your work.
Engage in Creative Cross Training
Creative cross training occurs when a person from one creative discipline engages in another. For example, when a musician takes a dance class or when a writer takes an art class. Learning about another creative field will help stimulate your brain, expose you to new ideas and has the potential to introduce an entirely new perspective on your own creative output. Book tickets to a play, a concert or a new exhibition. Sign up to a writing class, join a choir, pop into a gallery. There are endless opportunities to engage in cross training and to stretch your creativity and inspiration!
Take Control and Delegate
Allow yourself the time and space to be creative by taking control of your work load, and, if working in a wider team, learning how to delegate tasks effectively. A creative mind can be easily overwhelmed if it has too many tasks in hand. Organise and prioritise your work, commit to a strategy to tackle each task and set yourself realistic timeframes in which to complete them. Learn to say “no” to additional work and set boundaries for yourself in order to protect your creativity.
If you work as part of a wider team, don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to others to provide you with the mental space to ideate effectively. Delegating is not a sign of weakness, - it is a useful and effective strategy to ensure productivity. Begin by trusting your team with smaller, simple tasks and as you become more comfortable and confident in their work, begin delegating more important ones. This will give you more time and mental space to be creative, which is key to overcoming block.
One of the most effective ways to overcome creative block, is to simply just START. Whether it’s a chord, a brush stroke, a plié, the first few words of a story, a cross-stitch or setting up a new camera angle, just letting go and performing this one step will help a great deal. It is perfectly fine to take small steps and ease into the process. As previously mentioned, the best creative work is always the result of an iterative process. Don’t be afraid to run with the first idea that comes to mind and develop it, change it, rework it until it begins to shape into work that you’re happy with.