Every artist experiences artists block at one time or another, and it can be crippling. You know what creative block is if you’ve ever felt that uncomfortable—even horrific—feeling of losing your inspiration and being void of creative ideas.
If you want to revitalize your creative energies and feel inspired again, you’ll need to learn how to get over creative blocks and move forward with your art.
Instead of sitting back and waiting in agony, try out one (or more) of these strategies for overcoming creative block.
1. Repeat This Mantra
Many artists struggle with creative block as they stare at a blank page. Often, the reason is that starting a new project incites fear. They worry that their work won’t measure up to some standard, whether it’s set by others or themselves.
This fear of failure, which you might also call perfectionism, is often the culprit of creative block or writer’s block.
If this feeling sounds familiar, set out with the mission to make bad art.
And repeat this mantra:
“Bad art is better than no art.”
2. Sketch 24/7
Now, when I say sketch all the time, I don’t mean you should have your pen in hand every second of the day. However, you should have the ability to sketch all the time (or take a photograph, write prose, or another medium that suits you, for example beautiful infographics)
So, keep your sketchbook on you, and sketch a quick study of anything that inspires you.
You never know when you’ll see something that sparks your creative energy, so you should always be prepared.
3. Don’t Start With a Blank Page
If you’re still stuck staring at a white piece of paper (whether it’s real or metaphorical), you might be having trouble because you’re starting in the wrong place.
Whenever you begin a new piece, you should read, research, sketch, and learn before setting out to create the final version. Intentionally seek out ideas. Get yourself out there, and go find inspiration for your work.
Masterpieces aren’t created by people who sit in sterile rooms and stare at their own work all day. So, start somewhere else. Refer to your sketchbook of inspirational images or check out one of these 11 sources of design inspiration.
And, if you already have pieces started, go back to them. You’ve already done the hardest part.
4. Educate Yourself
It’s only natural to feel inspired by great artists of history. So, discover the work of different artists and designers. Learn about what inspired them, the challenges they faced, and how they overcame them.
Every artist faces art block—including the greats.
When you educate yourself about how other artists have overcome their art block, you add strategies to your inspirational toolbox. This list is a great start, but there’s more out there.
5. Start a Dream Journal
Like your 24/7 sketchbook, a visual journal of your dreams can serve as a record and a source of inspiration. We don’t have access to every corner of our minds, but when we dream, we unlock pieces that were hard to see before.
These surreal images and wild visions can be translated into innovative designs and original work. Don’t let them go to waste.
6. Practice Creative Writing
If you’re struggling to create art on paper, consider beginning with words instead. And hope that you don’t face writer’s block, too. You can write:
- stream of consciousness prose
- short fiction
- a novel
- an autobiography
- a journal entry describing where you are or who you see
Whatever you choose to write, don’t stress over the quality. You’re not setting out to publish your creative writing. Your goal is just to be creative. Once you’ve cleared your creative block, move onto what you really want to create.
7. Recognize When You Need Rest
Sometimes, you’ll experience artists block simply because you’re tired. When you’re feeling this way, you might feel the urge to push yourself. Instead, be honest and take the time you need to rest.
Rather than pushing yourself off the edge of frustration, stress, or fatigue, show yourself compassion by allowing your mind and body to relax.
8. Spend Time with Friends, Family, and Other Creatives
Art doesn’t occur in a vacuum. If you spend all your time in the studio, you’ll miss out on the inspiration the world has to offer. So, don’t forget to live your life and take time to not create.
Gain new experiences, insights, and perspectives by spending time with friends, family, and other creative minds. When you socialize and work through ideas together, you give yourself intellectual fuel for your work.
Plus, spending quality time with the people you love can be a good way to rest.
9. Add Personality to Your Studio Space
An artistic space void of color and design is not inspirational—so don’t work in a place like that. If your studio is an empty room, put art up on the walls.
If it’s decorated, but it’s been the same for a while, shake things up with new prints, posters, and décor. When your studio is full of inspirational art, examples of your skill, and designs that excite you, it’s more than just the place where you create—it’s a tool for creativity.
10. Get Out of Your Studio Altogether
Alternatively, you can just leave your studio. Try working on a project in a new place, like a coffee shop, park, or friends’ house.
If you’re experiencing a creativity block whenever you’re in your studio, take the supplies you need and try to create somewhere else.
11. Try a New Approach
Having a go-to creative process can be helpful, but no one process will produce inspiration 100% of the time. What worked last time (or even the last hundred times) might not work next time.
So, try a different way of looking at things or an entirely different medium or style.
If you work on portraits, do a landscape. If you like to sketch with pencils, use charcoal. If you usually create digital art, try painting.
Dealing with Fatigue
Sometimes, the creative well runs dry simply because you are tired. It sounds like the most simple advice, but it may be the most difficult to follow. If you recognize fatigue, and you need to be really honest with yourself in order to do that, it is better to take a few days off than to continue pushing it and increasing your frustration.
A lot of creative artists and designers find it really hard to simply let go, even for a few days, some are even afraid they may never find their creative inner voice again, but taking some time off to be with your friends and family, or even to indulge in activities you never seem to find the time to do, can be really helpful.