We barely realize it but the amount of mental exhaustion that creating art causes to creatives is sorely understated. I am a victim of occasionally crumbling in exhaustion as soon as I begin brainstorming ideas for this blog or trying to revitalize my blog’s theme (or mostly anything related to my blogging) and it usually takes me a while before I am able to pick myself up.
Do you always find it difficult to kickstart your creative process? This sort of brick-wall that creatives are faced with is fondly known as a creative block. Apparently eight out of ten creatives have endured a creative block in varying degrees of concern: ranging from a low-grade creative block, a mid-range creative block and a debilitating creative block. We shall discuss these types in detail to be able to shed light on what each entails and you can find out which category defines your block as a creative.
Creative blocks manifest themselves in different ways depending on a particular creative’s attitudes, work ethic, schedules and motivation factors. Let us firstly look at the implications of each of these to the creative block.
THE CREATIVE’S ATTITUDE
When planning out the activities involved in a particular craft, there is a certain amount of time, effort and energy that the creative is required to put in to ensure that the job is done efficiently. It goes without saying that a very important aspect that is overlooked in this process is the attitude that the creative employs while doing the activities.
I learnt the hard way how one’s attitude may affect the creative process when I tried to take on a different approach in my listing. Normally when I am drafting a post, I type my pointers on the Sticky Notes app on my laptop and save them. But this particular time I decided to take the traditional approach of writing them down on a notepad. It was not the writing itself that was the issue as much as my attitude towards this sort of approach. My attitude towards writing my points down as compared to typing them on my laptop was not desirable and soon enough I got tired of listing.
I noticed that I submitted my drafts late and poorly scripted while using the latter approach of physically writing them down. The days that followed were devoid of any motivation to draft my work. Had I realized that my normal way of listing filled me with a sense of purpose and achievement than trying to do it differently I would have not hit a creative block.
Attitudes in the creative process really influence how creatives do their work and the respective outcomes.
Had I realized that my normal way of listing filled me with a sense of purpose and achievement than trying to do it differently I would have not hit a creative blockAvid Conquest
What activities or tasks do you undertake that influence your attitude in your creative process? It could be anything such as the website you use to post, the music you listen to as you create or the opinions and advice that influence your thinking, Beware of any changes to these options that may influence your attitude negatively and promote a creative block.
Work ethic is described as a set of values centered on the importance of doing work in a diligent manner and with desire. I put it simply as the way you undertake an activity/task and the values that guide you throughout the process.
How do you describe your work ethic? Are you professional, motivated and committed? Or are you poorly organized, inconsistent and uncooperative?
Depending on what sort of work ethic a creative possesses, it may either promote or reduce the possibilities of a creative block. A strong work ethic positively reinforces the creative throughout his/her creative process and minimizes the chances of a creative block. Take for example, a creative who manages time effectively, is well organized, values teamwork and is focused on producing high-quality content. This kind of creative will hardly be encumbered by a creative block as they have a work ethic that guides them successfully.
Cultivate a positive work ethic that helps you to power through a creative block and you will definitely see a difference in your levels of motivation.
A schedule is very important to a creative. It offers a breakdown of the activities included in the creative process, the resources available for the creative and the time to be taken to achieve these activities. Almost every aspect of our lives fits into a schedule to avoid time wastage and a headache trying to overcompensate if things don’t go as planned.
Do you have a schedule that you follow as a creative? Would you say you are keen to follow it or do you just stumble through it?
Moreover, a schedule is a great motivator to a creative because it offers a reminder to follow up on the tasks. It always spurs the creative to action and reduces the chances of slacking off and inviting lethargy into the process. Having a well planned schedule will definitely help you to beat a creative block and concentrate on achieving the tasks you have laid out.
Understanding how these factors may contribute to a creative block is important and key to a creative. But what about knowing how bad the situation is? As creatives, we may be oblivious to the extent to which we are unmotivated and unenthused about our work. Let’s find out what levels of creative block there are.
LOW-GRADE CREATIVE BLOCK
This is the first tier of the creative block and usually the quickest to handle. Ever heard a low-grade fever? It is not crippling but it still boasts of some symptoms of a serious fever like a throbbing headache and a temperature that rarely wanders to the worrisome 40 degree levels.
A low-grade creative block behaves the same way. It comes in short waves of unmotivated efforts, masking in the guise of laziness and can be notoriously willed into. Procrastination is the main cause of a low-grade creative block and it urges the creative to ‘take some time off’ for way too many times so that ultimately the creative lacks the willpower to get up and put in some work.
It is easier to get over this type of block by setting targets for yourself in a day to put in a desired level of work. The creative should muster the willpower to ensure that he/she does not find a reason to stack away the work for another day or period.
MID-RANGE CREATIVE BLOCK
In this range, the creative block almost feels like a physical force is preventing the creative from undertaking their tasks. It can mask as a depressing state of inaction that glues the creative to their bed or couch and convinces them that they will find another opportune time to get down to business.
Creatives experiencing a mid-range block may feel as though they lack ideas or inspiration and consequently resort to waiting until the light bulb flashes on top of their heads. This wait can be a day, a week or an entire year. A mid-range creative block can slowly ruin a creative’s desire to create and drain their creativity.
Hopefully, though, with a little bit of external push, a shock to their system or a jolt at the back, a creative can bounce back from a mid-range creative block before it is too late.
DEBILITATING CREATIVE BLOCK
This final tier of the creative block is the most dangerous of the three. Notably, the creatives who experience a debilitating creative block invariably suffer from more pressing issues that threaten their work ethic, their motivation to work and their ability to create a healthy work life balance.
Creatives faced with a debilitating creative block may vow to give up on their craft and pursue other avenues of creativity. They do not make an informed decision about it but will rush to look for other ways to get dopamine hits as strong as they felt when they were on their initial path of creativity. A debilitating creative block can literally leave a creative feeling disillusioned and disappointed that they put in all the work only to hit a brick-wall and stall.
Dealing with a debilitating creative block is not easy. It requires the creative to remain grounded to the excitement that initially surrounded them starting their craft. I know this is easier said than done because inevitably one may not hold on to the same level of thrill as they did from the onset of their craft. But this is what makes the difference: being able to channel the initial giddiness and excitement throughout their creative process regardless of how long they have been doing it.
Have you been a victim of these levels of creative block?
Despite there being levels to it, any of these creative blocks can seriously undermine the hours of work that a creative has put in. They can hold you back from achieving your planned tasks, erode your confidence in your craft and abilities and they can stunt your growth and frustrate your efforts to sustain your level of output.
Are there any tips to beat a creative block?
Here are simple ways I find helpful in hurdling moments when a creative block bares its ugly head at you.
- Switch up but not drastically. Remember when I tried to change my listing approach and failed terribly. Well, many creatives also do try to tweak an activity in their processes and actually end up succeeding. I concur that perhaps, despite my foul attitude, I switched up my approach drastically instead of gradually taking it up and then introducing it in my routine. Sometimes a creative block can be triggered by following a routine for so long that it becomes a boring venture to you. Try and switch up your methods of operation gradually. For example, gradually move into brighter environments, introduce music by starting off with brown/white noise and adopt breaks in between your creative process.
- Shift your attentions to other forms of art. I realized that if you experience a creative block in your particular craft, it is because you feel as though everything about that craft defines you, even the shortcomings you face. In order to offer a different, fresher perspective, find another form of art where you can simply be a spectator. You are able to shed the burden of feeling as though your input will influence the outcome whatsoever. You can find your chi through the simple act of taking a step back from your norm and enjoying other forms of art. Hopefully, you can go back to your craft with a newfound sense of purpose and drive.
- Engage with your friends, supporters and sponsors. Creatives can sometimes get lost in their little cocoons of critical self-assessment and self-loathing and they can easily find an excuse to down their tools for their own sake. It is important that they are able to talk with the people around them who rely on the their consistency in output to bring perspective and discernment. Friends and supporters can spur the creative forward and offer encouragement that the creative direly needs to battle a creative block. Find time to spend with those that matter to you and those who will urge you on.
I have had my fair share of battles with creative blocks and especially towards the end of last year. Somehow, with the pandemic raging on for most of 2020, I found a reason to beat the block and I am proud that I have regained the consistency in my blogging and writing. It would have been easier to accept the sloth tag and wait until 2021 to resume my activities but I have learnt that if everything was easy, everyone would have done it. Only the strong ones do what everyone dares not do.
Find the courage and inspiration to beat your creative block and I wish you all the best as you create, discover and explore.
Share this with a friend who is a creator and make their day a better one. Let’s beat creative block one share at a time.