Sooner or later, every artist gets to experience creative block. You sit down, ready to make something new, and it hits. Days go by, and anxiety grows, but it seems impossible to make any progress. Then you start questioning your choices and even dare to think that art wasn’t the right path for you. Though creative block is unfortunate and sometimes can stop us from making music for days, months, or even years, there is a lot to learn from it too.
So, where does creative block come from?
Mental health professionals describe creative block as the inability to access one’s internal creativity. They mention various factors that could be the reason for creative block. Some of which might be:
- Overworking (creatively and in general);
- Self-doubt and constant negative self-talk and criticism;
- Personal problems (loss, financial situation, illness or other medical conditions);
- Repeated rejection of one’s creative work;
- Focusing on the outcome of one’s project.
What could help you to overcome creative block?
Create a routine. It might help you to switch your mind into a creative state. When you dedicate a part of your day specifically to tackling your problems, there is nothing else left but to face them and look for solutions. So instead of running from creative block, you get a chance to sit down and explore it.
Write it down. We often forget about the power of the pen. Find a piece of paper and write for no more than 15 minutes. You can start by listing your problems first and then explore each of them deeper. Do not worry about grammar or the quality of your writing. You don’t have to show it to anyone. Just keep on writing, and the answer will come out on the paper itself. Trust the process and your mind.
Go for a walk. Step away from your projects and explore your surroundings. Observe everything around you. Leave your headphones at home, take a new, unexplored path. Stop and look at the things that intrigue you. If something inspires you, take a picture and look back at it during your creative process.
Find a mentor. Someone who is more experienced than you. Someone who could make you think broader and help you look at your project from a new perspective. There are various mentoring programs, but you can also meet people on multiple platforms online. For instance, check the Blokas community forum or Blokas Reads, find someone you like, and make the first move by contacting them.
Sign up for a course. Learning new things always helps us to refresh our minds. You could start a class on something completely new and unexplored or something related to the issues you face at the moment. Either way, it might help you regain your inspiration and understand that learning and creativity are inseparable.
What can Blokas community members suggest?
“Most of my creative blocks stem from looking at the project or problem from the same old viewpoints. Fortunately, there are nearly 8 billion others in this world. Searching for how others did something similar, collaborating, or bouncing ideas off friends or virtual friends in forums is invaluable. I love living in a time of near-infinite exchange of ideas and so many ways to collaborate. Goofing around and experimenting with weird or unfamiliar chords/progressions/melodies/tones without preconceived ideas about what’s good or bad is the best way I’ve found to create something that expresses “Me”. Tapping into that unconscious Flow. Also, riffing on someone else’s song can lead to making my own song which eventually sounds nothing like the original. Similarly, “Reverse engineering” your hero’s guitar tone can not only help you learn what all the effects and knobs do but also lead to your own unique tones. There’s nothing wrong with standing upon the shoulders of giants. In fact, doing so might turn you into someone else’s giant.” – Randall Reichenbach, the creator of pi-Stomp (read the full interview here).
“My strategy is to write down every single idea that comes to my mind – and I do it immediately, no matter the circumstances (because these things can fade away quickly) – so even if it’s the middle of the night and I wake up with a spark of an idea in my mind, I grab a mobile or a pen and write it down; if I’m driving a car, I make a point of pulling back and making a short note. I have a number of these ideas, and they evolve over time, so even if I’m not especially inspired at some point, there’s always something that I can reach for. In fact, I have a number of favorite ones which I can’t wait to start working on, so sometimes I’d rather have fewer ideas and more time.” – Krzysztof Cybulski, the mastermind behind Autosampler (read the full interview here).
We hope that these tips will help and get you creating again. As Randall and Krzysztof have mentioned, being a part of the creative community can be a helpful solution in overcoming creative block. So please feel free to share your struggles and suggestions on overcoming creative blocks in the comments below. Let’s keep creating! 🙌