Ah, the dreaded creative block—we’ve all been there.
A note before we get started—I wrote the entire post below and thought about dumping it in the trash a few times since I was worried the advice I was giving was too generic and would be perceived as inauthentic. But, I kept writing to see where it would go. Reflecting on what I had written later, I think the main point I wanted to make by writing this post was that you don’t have to have the creative juices flowing 24/7. It’s okay if you love blogging—or whatever your hobby is—but don’t want to do it all the time. Sometimes there are other things in life going on that take precedent because they have to or because they’ve taken over unwillingly.
My therapist in college told me that time would solve a lot of my problems I was coming to her with. It was hard to believe her in the moment, but she was right. And I’ve found that most of my problems since have taken care of themselves with time, too. So while I do use all the tricks below for dealing with a creative block, just remember that if all else fails, time usually won’t.
Last month, when I asked post ideas several in a short survey—it’s still open if you want to take it!—several people requested I do a post on how to get over a creative block when I don’t feel inspired to blog. I was also asked how to overcome a blogging plateau, and for me personally, those plateaus tend to come at a time when I am the uninspired because I am putting in the least amount of effort.
Recently, I’ve been really inspired about blogging—creating the content, curating my Instagram feed, chatting on Twitter. It’s been really fun—especially since it’s been cold outside there are less distractions, and is something that energizes me instead of drains me. I also have lots of ideas for future posts, which helps keep blogging fun since it takes out some of the guesswork—or, creative block, if you will—when I sit down to write a post.
But, last fall, I definitely went through a block when it came to blogging—something I touched on a bit here and in most link loves around the same time. I was very busy in other aspects of my life, somewhat sleep deprived, and way more stressed than I am now, which lead to that situation. Coming up with posts I wanted to write more than a sentence or two about was a challenge, and the blogging process in general felt like a chore.
Yet here I am, a couple months later, happily blogging away.
So what changed?
Well, for one, I finished grad school. That freed up a lot of time on weekends and week nights to focus on blogging and other activities, which helped restore a lot of balance in my life. But, I think there were other factors to that helped me overcome my creative block so I wanted to share them below in case you are in the midst of a creative block or find yourself in one down the road. (I’m sure I’ll find myself in another creative block eventually, too.) A note that I talk about my creative block through the lens of blogging below since that’s my creative outlet—but, I think the strategies could apply to any venture or passion you call your own.
01. STEP AWAY FROM YOUR CREATIVE PROJECT
That’s right—sometimes I think the best way to refresh your creativity is to walk away from the project for a little bit. This is easier said than done, I know. Maybe you’ve told yourself you’re going to blog three times per week and so far have only written two posts. Or maybe, you mentioned to your readers you’d have a post up by a certain date. Unless you’re going to miss out on income or leave a contract unfulfilled, sometimes I think it is best to just step away and give yourself permission to not work on whatever it is you think you should be working on.
For instance, last fall, I would tell myself that after work, I’d sit down diligently to write a post. Yet, 6 pm would come around and I either had homework or no desire to blog—I’d rather go to the gym, enjoy a drink with a friend, or take part in the company bocce league. So instead of forcing myself into blogging, I gave myself permission to do the other things I wanted to do without guilt. Then, between Christmas and New Years, I took an extended break from blogging—as I usually do along with many other bloggers. It was this total break that really made me realize how much I really enjoyed blogging and didn’t want to quit. In addition, not having to go through the daily motions of putting together a post—writing it, shooting images for it, scheduling it and the social media that went along with it—freed up time to think of new ideas for posts and allowed me to look for new tools to help make blogging easier. (More on that soon.)
I recognize we don’t always have the luxury of a total break—I know I certainly don’t at work. But even stepping away from a project for a couple of hours or days can really help bring fresh eyes and ideas to a creative challenge.
02. ENJOY ANOTHER CREATIVE OUTLET
For me, when I am feeling uncreative, I look to what others are creating. This could mean listening to a Podcast that will teach a little bit more about a topic I am interested in, reading a memoir by a public figure I admire, browsing my favorite news outlets for interesting articles, or scrolling through Instagram to find someone with a really cool creative vision. Of course—you have to be careful to not play the comparison game, which can be easy to do, especially during a block.
But usually by changing gears to either enjoying or taking part in something else creative—maybe an art class, taking photos just for fun—I can get my own creative juices flowing.
03. SWITCH UP YOUR SURROUNDINGS
For me, skipping town is always a great way to get over a creative block. Your surroundings are different, you’re out of your daily routine, and you’re likely being exposed to a lot of new experiences, foods, places, and people. In my case, I love finding new things to photograph on these adventures—finding the right angles and capturing the beauty of my surroundings. I also love not being beholden to a schedule and enjoying cocktails and conversations with friends or family in different city. Regardless of where I go, I am always refreshed creatively whenever I return from a trip because I’ve taken a break from the everyday and seen something different.
However, it’s not always feasible to get out of dodge to get over a creative block. In that case, I try to switch up what I can about my daily surroundings—maybe I take my laptop to a different room in my office, walk home a different way from work, or try a new restaurant that’s been on my list forever. Exposing yourself to new things can help trigger new ideas—whether or not you leave town.
But, I don’t want to just tell you how I overcome creative blocks, I want to hear how you overcome them, too! Drop me a note in the comments below or shoot me an email—we’ve definitely all better, and having new ideas to try when inspiration fails to strike is always good.