How To Bust Through a Creative Block: Good Advice from Great Artists

published Oct 3, 2016
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

No matter your profession, creative blocks can and will arise from time to time. One minute you’ll be bursting with originality and enthusiasm—and the next you might feel totally stuck. You’ve probably already heard of all the typical ways to bust through those blocks such as meditating, exercising, and spending time in nature, but here I’m sharing a few different methods you may not have heard of before that will get your creative juices flowing again in no time.

Write Morning Pages

Morning pages are one of the fundamental tools in author and playwright Julia Cameron‘s best-selling book The Artist’s Way. All you have to do is bust out a notebook every morning and fill up three pages with stream of conscious writing—just three. It doesn’t matter what you write, whether it’s a recap of the day before, a poem, a list of worries, dreams and goals, or things you’re grateful for. Just let whatever is on your mind pour onto the page. Doing so on a regular basis will bring clarity and fire up your creativity.

Take Your Inner Artist on a Date

The second essential tool of The Artist’s Way course is going on what Cameron calls “artist dates” once a week. It’s basically just a play date you go on all by yourself that will nurture your inner artist. This can be an afternoon at the beach, going to a museum, or trying out a new restaurant—just dedicate a couple of hours each week to do whatever will make your inner creative child happy.

Allow Yourself to Be Bored

Although it may seem counter productive, being bored is actually a good thing when you’re feeling creatively blocked. In his memoir On Writing, prolific writer Stephen King shares that he would often go on long, boring walks whenever he felt stuck. Boredom allows your mind to slow down and be still. It’s only when you finally stop thinking about the problem that the answer will magically appear.

Stop Complaining

When you’re in a creative jam, the easiest thing to do is complain about being in a creative jam. But, as Elizabeth Gilbert (a.k.a. the author of Eat Pray Love) writes in her book Big Magic, every complaint about how creatively stuck you are is actually scaring inspiration away. Instead, she recommends affirming over and over how much you enjoy every aspect of your creative work, including the jams, in order to lure inspiration in.

Follow Your Curiosity

This is another tip from Big Magic (can you tell I’m a fan?). When coming up with a new idea feels utterly impossible, stop being so hard on yourself and instead pause and look around to find even the tiniest thing that is piquing your interest at the moment and look a little bit closer. It’s a clue. Keep following your curiosity and trust that those little clues will eventually lead you to your next big idea.

What do you to get your creative juice flowing?