As I write this, I’m perched in a coffeeshop, listening to my go-to ’90s playlist, and my girl Monica comes on, crooning, ‘It’s just one of them days, that a girl goes through…’. And as soon as I hear it, I just wanna yell ‘PREACH!’ at the top of my lungs. Because boy, can I relate.
Except in this case, it’s not just a day and it’s not just boy problems. It’s an all-encompassing lack of drive that’s been going on for awhile now. You know, that creative block that starts with a lazy Sunday on the couch and slowly turns days into weeks. When the words don’t seem to flow like they normally do, and your thoughts no longer run freely. Instead of finding inspiration in other peoples’ content, you simply become overwhelmed.
Creative block is a nightmare and just like a nagging ex, I can’t seem to shake it.
Anyone who follows me on Instagram will likely be thinking, ‘Ummm bish, you were JUST in Mexico and taking a million pics a day.’ True, I was. The images were easy to take because everywhere I turned there was a photo op – but trying to write an email, let alone a post for my site? Pffffft. Please. I avoided my computer like the plague, and when someone innocently asked if I had decided to focus more on Instagram than writing for This Renegade Love, it was like a knife to the heart. The one thing that had always come easy to me, that I’d always been skilled at, had been stripped away. And although to the outside world it looked like I was on a creative rampage, inside I was freaking out – would I ever find my way back to writing? Or was this it?
At the end of the day, I know it’s not just me – creative block happens to everyone. But that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, especially when it’s your job to pump out creative vibes.
Guys, I wish I had a magic solution for creative block. That I could enlighten you with tales of how I overcame it for good and now live a life filled with endless ideas. But that little unicorn just doesn’t exist and I would be a hypocrite to make you think otherwise. It comes in waves and sometimes it lasts for a day or two, but other times it can last a month (it’s taken hours just to write this goddamn post – arrrgh). And unfortunately, you simply have to wait it out until the creative juices start flowing again. Just know that they will start flowing again.
So instead of waxing poetic about how I ditched the nagging ex, I can only offer a few tips on how to manage creative block when it shows up uninvited.
1 Take a break. Full stop.
Sometimes the worst thing is trying to be creative. Your work becomes forced, unnatural and an obvious result of frustration. If you’re able to, stop the creative process for a week and just take a breather. Hang out with friends and go for a spa day. Log out of social media, leave your phone at home, be in the moment and allow your brain to relax.
2 Explore other mediums.
When you’re in a creative rut, looking to the work of your peers has the dangerous power to send you into a tailspin of jealousy. Instead, try exploring other creative mediums as a means of inspiration, whether that be sculpture or music or photography. Not only will it allow you to think outside the box in ways you may not have before, but you’ll be less likely to compare your (fragile) self in a competitive way, and more likely to focus on creative growth.
3 Listen to music or meditate.
When was the last time you laid on the couch and just listened to music, doing nothing else? Back in my emo teen days, I would lock myself in my room and listen to my favourite bands on end, daydreaming the weekend away. When you’re in a creative rut, channel your inner teenager and plug in those headphones to let your mind wander – or, consider practicing meditation. Doing ‘nothing’ is often the best way to clear out the junk that’s blocking your creative brainwaves.
4 Think warm thoughts.
The winter weather in Toronto is a serious downer and brings new meaning to ‘blah’. As soon as I stepped off the plane in Mexico under the warm sun, my spirits were lifted and I wanted nothing more than to seek new adventures (even if I couldn’t bloody well write about them). If you can’t make it to a hot spot, try a steam room treatment or hot yoga to brighten your mood and release the anxiety that comes from creative block.
5 Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Because you’re not the only one, and it doesn’t make you any less awesome. Your rut is simply a minor speedbump in your creative journey. And if nothing else, just rest assured knowing that even Beyonce gets creative blocks sometimes (or so I tell myself, anyways).
Anyone else struggle with creative block from time to time?
How do you deal with it?