How to Get Past Creative Block

With some projects you don’t know where to start, and with others it’s like you took a 5 second break and the train of thoughts just left the station, and you’re lost. The whole journey of creativity comes to a grinding halt.

Some call it Resistance, others calls it “being empty.” And sometimes it is a lack of inspiration. As long as you’re not God, you’ve felt creative block. Luckily other mortals have faced the same issue and shared what helped (and what didn’t) and how they persevered.

You Don’t Need To Do Your Best Every Time

You can’t steer a parked car! Sometimes we build up a lot of pressure on ourselves to create something out of this world, before we even start. Don’t worry about creating something amazing, or something even useful. Just start! Then steer where your mind flows.

Sean McCabe, entrepreneur and hand lettering artist believes that,

As it became clearer - Elaine GreenAs it Became Clearer by Elaine Green

Embrace the Break

If you’re stumped, get your hands off the deck. A break from everything is nothing to fear – consider that your battery has died and you need to put it for recharging. Rosanes believes that a break is healthy, even if it is for a few weeks or months. When you miss what you love and can’t think of anything but that, you’ll find your creative juices flowing.

Champagne by Artem Bryl

Let Your Brain Multi-Task

Playing something in the background that I find interesting or funny or informative, something that I’ve already seen a million times but still find interesting, keeps my brain happy while I work. My brain associates that with chilling on a couch with munchies and binge watching. It’s like splitting your brain in two. It’s like giving a treat to a kid for jumping on the trampoline. Win-Win!

Dancing in the Desert by Nicole Maguire

Switch Your Brain Off!

Daniel Dennett, explains his method – Tillosophy.

Desert Series 1 by Robert Josephsen

His strategy for tackling a block is to stare the work right in its face, remind himself what the problems and goals are, make them prominent in his head and stop thinking about the problem for a while. Forcing the brain to deal with something else and “control” an entirely different situation, melts down the barrier of the circuits. “My strategy could hardly be cruder, but it works so well so often that I have come to rely on it.”

Well try it; if it doesn’t work, at least you’ll have a clean basement, washed clothes, mowed lawns or a colour coded library.

Creativity is not the Same as Productivity

Alexi Murdoch, questions the question.

Hope by Lauren Danger

Creativity is not a never ending resource that can be negotiated with to be pumped into our work. The thought that creativity can be forced and extracted essentially erodes the distinction between creativity and productivity.

My favourite advice, however, comes from Jessica Hagy.

“How can you defeat the snarling goblins of creative block? With books, of course. Just grab one. It doesn’t matter what sort: science fiction, science fact, pornography (soft, hard, or merely squishy), comic books, textbooks, diaries (of people known or unknown), novels, telephone directories, religious texts — anything and everything will work.

Now, open it to a random page. Stare at a random sentence.


By forcing your mind to connect disparate bits of information, you’ll jump-start your thinking, and you’ll fill in blank after blank with thought after thought. The goblins of creative block have stopped snarling and have been shooed away, you’re dashing down thoughts, and your synapses are clanging away in a symphonic burst of ideas. And if you’re not, whip open another book. Pluck out another sentence. And ponder mash-ups of out-of-context ideas until your mind wanders and you end up in a new place, a place that no one else ever visited.”

Creative block is like a sign from God that you need a break. Don’t defy the lord, take thy break.

Keep up to date with the Australian and international art scene and discover new artists by signing up to our newsletter here.


Profile of a bestseller – bluethumb artist Sue Bannister

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *