All of us artists experience a creative block at some point. When this happens, it can be difficult not knowing how long it may last or why it even began. Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, why not try some of these creative block-busting methods?

1. Write

Did you know that traditional writing (yes, pen on paper) can get the creative juices flowing? There is no planning involved, just sit down and start writing. It doesn’t matter what comes out, even if it’s “I don’t know what to write. This is silly, I am just doing it because Theresa told me to…”. You’re doing it and that’s what matters!

At a certain point, these empty statements will turn into something more meaningful. You may start thinking about the birds making noise on your roof, or the dog barking outside. As you write, the reason for your block may actually show up within a sentence.

In addition to this, writing in and of itself, is a creative outlet. You are actually getting yourself back into a creative flow by doing this exercise. Once that flow gets going, see where it takes you, or hop over to the medium you typically use and enjoy.

2. Move

This can mean anything from going for a walk or riding your bicycle to sweeping the walkway. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous, just some form of physical movement. Get yourself out of the house or away from your studio or creative space. A change of scenery helps your brain focus on something new.

You may find that within 5 minutes a new idea has already popped into your head. Get back to creating as soon as the urge strikes. Other times it may take a bit longer, but I find that if I change my surroundings, ideas start to come and I can’t get home soon enough.

3. Try a New Medium

Creating in a medium we’re not used to, removes expectations we put on ourselves in our typical practice. It allows us to explore, experiment and learn. It opens us up to possibilities, which is where our creativity can emerge. If you find yourself getting into a creative flow in a new medium, this will often spur ideas in your regular practice.

A couple of years ago, I hit a major creative block in my painting practice that I couldn’t seem to shake. I decided to step away temporarily, and take up pottery, something I’d been wanting to try for years. So I took a couple of classes and then spent hours and hours in studio hand-building mugs and bowls.

When it came to glazing, I felt very limited when compared to painting on canvas. There were only a few ways I knew to apply color. I began to experiment so I could get the results that I envisioned in my mind. I had to call on my creative side and stretch it in all directions. This process sparked a bunch of new ideas that I could apply in my painting practice… and I couldn’t wait to get back to it!

4. Just Show Up

For example, if you’re a painter, go to your studio, put some paint on your canvas and literally just move it around. Use your brush, your hand, your spatula, it doesn’t matter. Move the paint around without any expectations of it turning into something. Spray it with water. Let it drip. Rotate your canvas. Put another color on. Doing some simple actions can trigger an idea. And if it does, it’ll probably hit you like a brick and you’ll want to get started right away.

For other artists, this idea could translate to simply moving your pencil on the page, with no plan of a final outcome. Scribble if you want to. Let your natural movement take over, and sooner or later you will see or feel the urge to draw something more tangible. If an idea emerges, or starts to form on paper, just go with it.

I can honestly say that these methods work because I’ve used each one of them. If you think you’ve hit the mother of all creative blocks, just give these a try and see what happens.

The only time I’ve ever stayed blocked, was by not going ahead and actually DOING the things listed here. You cannot just think about them, you need to DO.

If art-making still isn’t flowing, then find something else you enjoy. There are many ways to express yourself creatively: photography, singing, playing instruments, cooking, dancing. One of these may end up being your golden ticket to getting things going when you least expect it.

On a side-note, if you are going through a stressful time, it’s not surprising that you’re creatively blocked. Artistic output is definitely easier in a relaxed state. Being creative is a stress buster in itself… even more reason to try these out!

Let me know if any of these suggestions work for you. Or share your own go-to’s for keeping creativity flowing.

Thanks for reading!

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