The Top 3 Exercises to Help Overcome Creative Block

Any creative type knows that creative block isn’t just for writers and small children.  Sometimes the Muse sings and sometimes she doesn’t—but for those tormented souls that are paid for their artistry (writers, designers, architects, etc.) a slump in inspiration can be the equivalent of joblessness.

The worst thing about a block is that it’s like a groove in the road: once your wheels fall into it, it feels impossible to escape.  Suddenly you find yourself stuck on uninspired tracks that seem to travel out into infinity.

But there’s hope. 

Every artist who has ever lived has run into creative block.  What makes a good artist great, and a great artist timeless, is the ability to overcome the blocks when they inevitably fall in his or her path.

If you’re thinking, “Well, that sounds great—but how do I beat the block?!” then this post might be just what the doctor ordered.  Artists use dozens of tricks to get their creative juices flowing, and while each artist may have her own unique strategy, whatever she does is probably a derivative of one of three cardinal devices that help get artists past the blocks.

I call it living in 3D.

1) Devour

Sometimes the best thing to do when you’re stuck is just to absorb as much outside material as possible.  This doesn’t mean, however, that every time you can’t find set a scene or can’t design a page you should read or view something and then regurgitate it on the page.  Devouring other material is a kind of long-term strategy.  Be constantly reading and you will develop a sort of library in your head, of patterns, characters, motifs, symbols, designs, schemes, and so on.  Making connections with previous ideas can help you more than you know in forming a new one.

2) Draw

A more immediate remedy for the doldrums is to just force yourself to work.  This might seem counter-intuitive, given that feel blocked and unable to work in the first place, but often artists feel pressured to generate something brilliant at the drop of a hat, which can be a very detrimental pressure.  You don’t need to make a masterpiece every time you sit down to work; in fact, some of the best work comes during revision.  But you have to work.  Sit down, even when you don’t feel inspired, and work.  Doodle immature drawing, play the “what if” game, try working in another medium—but whatever you do, work.  Don’t get mired in the pressure to make something great.  Just pen something, pen a lot, and then come back to it later.

3) Depart

All things in moderation.  There is such a thing as working too much, and sometimes that in itself can be a block.  Take a break occasionally and do something completely different from your work: go hiking, swimming, watch a movie, make a meal and wash the dishes, re-organize your living room.  Find something that can upset your routine a little; be a little crazy.  New experience revitalize us and make the world seem new, and sometimes that’s all it takes to be brilliant and prolific again.  Make a departure from your work, so when you return you can impart your knew knowledge to it.

Most often the feeling of a creative block is much worse than the block itself.  It’s easy to get discouraged when ideas don’t just flow from your fingertips every time you sit down, but that kind of effortless creativity is just a daydream.  Art, like anything else, takes hard work, and more than anything, persistence.  Live life in 3D, and the flat landscape of your creativity will almost miraculously transform into a uniquely textured, wonderful place to be.

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