Earlier in the month, we posed a question to the online creative community, in hopes of getting a bit of an open discussion and dialog going with our readers and passers-by. We had an amazing response to this initial run and the answers flooded in to help unravel the inquiry, ‘How do you beat the creative block?’. This is a question we often tackle alone, but it seems that when it is opened up to the floor, we have a lot of the same ideas and ways we deal with the blocks that bar us from getting our creativity on.
Taking the discussion a step further, we posted a Battle of the Bands post after realizing one of the more popular ways to combat these blocks was to turn the music on and up to eleven. So we polled around some of the social media outlets for people’s favorite bands, trying to help expose others to the tunes that tempt our muses back into motion. All to feed the question, and engage the community. We have compiled the results and condensed the dialog down into this wrap-up to answer definitively how we can act to beat the blocks that turn our creative process into a creative stagnation. And by definitively, we mean based strictly on the data provided here. We are not saying that the below is the end-all/beat-all of answers that will unveil to everyone a solution that will work for them, but it is.
Beating the Creative Block : A How-To!
It happens to everyone at least once, or so we are told when it happens to us. I am referring of course, to the creative block…why? What did you think I was talking about? Working in a creative field, you are bound to come across one of these moments of creative breakdown. When your flame of inspiration has more than flickered and faded, it has all but flat-lined and is laying comatose in your brain.
In those moments, it is first and foremost important to remember one thing, don’t panic! If it’s sound enough advice for the Hitchhiker’ Guide, it’s sound enough to apply here. For what are the world’s creatives if not one large collective of galaxian hitchhikers. Thumbs raised high, towels clasped tightly in our grips as we wander…okay, so we hadn’t exactly worked out the whole hitchhiker metaphor before we started. But the point remains, that panicking in these situations is not going to help you or your project.
These moments will pass, and the creative juices will flow freely once again, but you do not always have to wait for father time’s healing hands to gently push you through these blocks. You can try to kick start the flow, siphoning the inspiration back into the imagination, with the aid of the following suggestions that were given over by members of the online creative community. These tested, tried, and true methods have been working for years for all of us, and we only hope that they will serve to help others as well.
The number one response that we received in answer to the question, was to get away from the project, mainly to get outside. With over half of the repliers agreeing that this method served them with the most consistent and best results. Turn your back on whatever it is you are working on, and break free into the cleansing power of nature and let it refresh you as it washes over you.
Toby Cummings – I usually step away from the computer and go outside and soak up some creative brain energy from the sun. That’s where my powers come from. ;-)
Ryan O. Hicks – Other than that i step away from the computer… something that involves me getting outside to get away from things to clear my head. Inspiration is all around us, but if you fail to recognize it then you will always be in that block.
Not only can music sooth the savage beast, as they say, but it can also act to inspire the creative flame to rise once again. This fact is reflected in the comments, having been the second most popular response to the community discussion query. Let the music play, and the spirit dance wildly to the beat, and the muses will come back to us. Taking our hands once again and leading us back on towards completion of our project.
Andy Sowards – Typically if I am feeling unmotivated I just start Cranking some tunes, and it all comes back :)
Just Something Unrelated
It is no secret that creative people like to remain somewhat uncommitted and aloof, maintain a bit of an air of mystery as they move through life. This is demonstrated in our third most given response, ‘just something unrelated’. Notice the subtle dodge of specificity, that lays the answer open to interpretation. Could be laziness, could be intrigue. Maybe they don’t want us to know exactly what it is they are up to? Could be, they don’t know. You decide.
Erika Martinez – Try to do something completely unrelated, letting that part of my brain relax a bit really helps.
To the online creative community, there is another kind of java beyond the kind used in web design that may rank higher in importance. Though I guess the argument could be made that both kinds of java can have an active role in web design, but we are talking coffee here, not script. That’s obvious, right? I mean, it was in the header. But anyway, coffee is the caffeinated beverage of choice to stimulate the mind through the creative congestion, coming in fourth on the list.
Trozdol – COFFEE! During the summer it’s been iced coffee. There’s something about that smell that makes me think.
It really should be no surprise that creative people, in times when they are feeling less than creative, turn to other works of art to fan the fallen flame of inspiration. Coming in at a three-way tie as our fifth most given resolution to the question. From creating brush strokes of their own to scanning the artistry of others to tear down the barriers barring their creativity, some people find their imagination rekindled after a brush with art in some form or fashion.
Brian McDaniel – I will usually look at unrelated artwork – not web designs. But paintings and photography.
Talking/Hanging with Friends/Family
The power of the people is evident as well, in our three-way tie for fifth in this discussion on creative blocks. Simply surrounding oneself with others and conversing on any number of things has a stimulating effect on many’s imaginations. That act of connecting with someone outside yourself, fires the synapses in the brain and the storm seems to keep going from there!
Joshua Smibert – I talk. Plain and simple. I find people to talk to. My best ideas and thoughts come through conversation with cool people.
Thank you, Al gore! This series of tubes that you have created for sharing information capped off the three-way tie we had on this question about beating these blockades. Surfing the web works to re-ignite that spark in some of the creative minds that answered back on the blog. And even though Global Warming, your second invention, was less popular and a bit more scary, Al, we can find out all about it as we surf for inspiration on your first…though, we’ll more than likely just look at I Can Has Cheezburger or the Fail Blog. ;)
Phil Stringfellow – Hmm, maybe surf YouTube for a while, watch funny videos of cats and kittens?
…And Survey Says…
There were so many more methods prescribed to help remedy this creative condition from booze to books, exercise to food. From the inclination to clean, be it themselves or something else, to playing with the kids or the animals, from games to movies, and from napping to bookstore browsing the online creative community has collected a bountiful bevy of ideas for fighting back against these blocks. And though they are a varied collection of crafters, with a variety of approaches to the problem, the essence of it all, is…
Unplug Your Mind
The bottom line is, you are blocked and you need to undergo a mental reset. Your brain needs to decompress and get refreshed by whatever means works for you. You cannot force the flow, but with a little help from your friends, you can find a way to get it back in motion once more! Just unplug your mind…or you could just always go and have a movement!
Mistermmmh – I go to the toilet, my ideas always come when I’m on the toilet
We’ll Call That A Wrap!
Thanks to everyone that contributed to the conversation, we deeply appreciate the interaction with the community, and the amount of involvement from everyone. We highly recommend that you visit the other posts in the discussion, if you haven’t already to see the rest of the comments from the community. And the comments will remain open so the discussion doesn’t have to end here. Though, if you are longing for more, we have a new Creative Discussion coming next month so be on the lookout for that.
Rob is the talented author and graphic designer, celebrated podcaster and poet, who is now the co-editor and imaginative co-contributor of Fuel Your Creativity. With a background working through most areas of the arts, Rob works from a creative wellspring that shows no signs of running dry.