Breaking Through a Creative Block
We’ve all been there. The blank page. That sadistically winking cursor. The feeling of tumbleweeds bouncing between your ears. Feeling as though you are slamming your head repeatedly against a giant mental wall, whilst you struggle in vain to come up with something, anything to say.
Maybe all the ‘Back to School’ talk and advertising has me thinking along these lines. However, whether you’re still learning or deeply entrenched within your career, we all come up against the dreaded ‘block’ every now and again.
But never fear! I have scoured the internet and the inside of my own skull for tips and tricks to get the creative juices flowing and help to break through that accursed block…
- Carry a notebook with you at all times and periodically make notes of your thoughts. They can be things that make you laugh or cry or merely strike you as interesting. That way you’ll have a stockpile of musings to dip into any time you’re experiencing a particularly frustrating session of head scratching.
- Some movement and a change of location can be your friend. Especially when you’ve been hunched over a desk for hours on end. Go for a walk, don’t plug into music or glue your attention to your phone but actually try and experience a little something of the great outdoors. Alternatively, it may be wet and windy outside or you might not feel like leaving the actual building. If that happens to be the case then I suggest you blast some beats and dance it out in the most crazed fashion you can manage
- They are an excellent and fantastic way of stretching those creative muscles. Challenge yourself by constructing your very own list of 100. I did a hundred things I’d like to do before I die. It’s a document that I definitely can’t show everyone but has taught me that I’d like to do a lot more travelling and invent a board game (totally didn’t have to strain incredibly hard for ideas).
- You can always take a psychological approach and try and figure out why is it you’re blocked. A fear of failure? Worried that your ideas aren’t quite good enough? The sheer boredom of the task in hand has sent you to sleep? Whatever’s going on you should have a go at dissecting and then addressing the issue.
- Come at the problem from a completely different angle. How would Cheryl from Accounts or Batman tackle this project? What solutions would the Queen or your mother come up with?
- Make up a story/scenario/character, being creative about something completely unrelated to the task at hand is not only easy but helps you to feel better and more imaginative. A personal favourite of mine is to write a letter of complaint. You can get not only the sinful pleasure of making a potential nuisance of yourself but if you write it from someone else’s perspective it can spark new ideas by putting you through different patterns of thinking.
- Take that dauntingly empty and plain sheet of paper. Place it in front of you. Grab a pen, pencil or whatever implement you most enjoy writing with (be that crayon, felt tip or inky feather) and coat that sheet with your thoughts. A straight cathartic brain dump of anything and everything not worrying about coherence or quality. You’d be surprised how much you can come up with. Don’t be afraid to doodle and scribble either, it can be oddly relaxing!
- There are plenty of other things for you to do to get your brain in the right mood. Create a writing schedule and stick to it rather than waiting for inspiration to strike. Set yourself simple and achievable goals to give yourself a confidence boost. However, the very best thing that will improve your writing no end is to ensure that you’re reading. Read a lot. At length. In variety. Learn everything you can from those who have gone before.
How about you? What’s your favourite or most effective way of smashing through a block?