Artblock is a pervasive problem for anyone who creates, so here are my tips on how to break through it and set yourself up for a fresh creative streak!
Though not the same thing, artblock and burnout share a lot of similar qualities in my mind. One can very much be the result of the other. In both situations, it’s hard to find something that ignites your passion to create and that feeling snowballs into other unpleasant artistic cerebral battles like impostor syndrome.
Over the years, I’ve worked up a list of things to try when I find myself in this situation. I hope the following thoughts can help break you or someone you know out of a block and help refresh your creative spirit. I’ve read that if you have a problem with your output, it is most likely a problem of INPUT. Change/refresh/renew, the things that are feeding your mind and give yourself new resources to draw from. Our minds as creative people are a reservoir that needs constant refilling. So without further ado, here are the tips!
1.) Change your artistic surroundings. (Move from digital to analog/traditional)
It always surprises me how refreshed I feel after breaking from digital work to do something analog or traditional. Whether the break is forced or planned, trying something different than my norm always leaves me with fresh techniques to bring back to my digital work. Challenge yourself. Try a traditional technique that has intimidated you in the past and give yourself license to play and not be critical of your learning process.
2.) Change your physical surroundings. (Go for a walk or run, or try something new to change your view!)
I am a creature of the sun and sometimes nothing hits the spot like being out in it. I’m very fortunate to live by a nice place to walk/run now, but in the past even a bounce over to the apartment’s gym was refreshing. You’re starting and completing a task in a (relatively) small amount of time and that can be very helpful to your subconscious.
‘It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.’ – Nietzsche
3.) Read a book.
Reread a book you loved in the past. Try something new. Change genres completely. I’ve recently started reading more nonfiction than fiction which is something that would’ve been out of the question 5 years ago.
4.) Watch a favorite movie or genre.
My go-to here is animation. When I was little, I refused to watch anything that wasn’t (at least partially) animated. (I’m looking at you, Water Babies and Bedknobs and Broomsticks!) My dad would rent whatever was new in the animated movies section and he would also tape favorites for me from TV. That’s how I fell in love with the Last Unicorn, The Secret of NIMH, and Sea Prince and the Firechild.
Give your brain a rest from the onslaught of social media and things constantly asking for your attention. Always be aware of who and what you’re giving your precious time to. We all have the same number of hours in the day to do with what we will. The most successful people manage their time very carefully and regulate how often they expose themselves to black holes that suck time and energy.
I recently read the blog entry of an incredible artist I found through Twitch, Sarah Burns. During the last months of 2018 she became aware of the time and energy drain that social media was taking on her mind, creativity, and life. So in January 2019, she unplugged completely and focused only on growing her work, skills and business. Her results were incredible and inspiring to say the least. Click here to read the blog entry where she wrote about it.