Yup, we’ve all been there. You want to work on it, but every time you go to write or paint or shoot, you come up with a big fat nothing. Creative blocks are the WORST. But they’re also totally normal. Over the years I’ve found that there are a few things you can do to either cure it, or shorten the amount of time you feel stuck.
1 ~ Do your Research
Robert McKee describes a creative block as a symptom of ignorance. I agree. During the creative process, we reach a point where we don't know what our character is going to do next, or we don't know what the right cut for the scene is, or we don't know what we're feeling so we don't know what to express - so we block up.
The good news is that there's a really practical solution: do some research! Spend some time creating mood boards, research the occupation of your character or the setting of your story, watch movies that are similar to the one you're trying to make, think about what your character would wear or do, look at paintings that are similar in form to your own vision. Once you learn more about the world you're creating, it will become easier to build it.
2 ~ Object Work
This is especially useful with writing, but I've found it can also help with photography and filmmaking as well. When you're feeling uninspired and unsure about how to move your creation forward, take three objects that are lying around the house. Plop them in front of you, and come up for a role for each of them in your story. It doesn't have to be the be all end all of plot devices- it can be something as simple as a hairbrush belonging to your hero; for example, when do they use it in the story? Where did they get it from?
Set a timer on your phone for five minutes and focus on the object's role - I've found that this exercise gives your brain a chance to reset. Once in a while, it has managed to solve a problem in the story.
3 ~ Change your Outlet
You’ve got to get out of your head. The best way to do this while still being productive in terms of your process is to change your discipline. Instead of writing, do some painting. Instead of photography, have a little sing a long- whatever discipline you enjoy and are
perhaps curious by but have no interest in pursuing. Something about this just allows you to relax and connect with your creative inner child. Artists tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves.
But when we were kids, we didn’t care about any of that stuff- we painted or danced because we had fun doing it. Reconnecting with that sense of freedom and joy is really important for your creative mental health and it will hopefully take the edge off your block.
4 ~ Self Reflection
Sometimes our creative block is purely emotional. Maybe we’re feeling insecure about our work, maybe we’re feeling competitive with other artists, maybe we’re just not in a good place. Whatever it is, it’s worth taking some time to confront our fears; ask yourself why you feel so unmotivated, why you don’t want to spend time writing or creating.
If there’s a sub conscious reason we’re feeling blocked, we owe it to ourselves to figure that out. So just take five minutes to do some journaling- you might be surprised by what comes out of it!
5 - Remember that it'll always come back
It's going to be okay. Inside of you is a desire to create. Just because you're having a hard time accessing that part of yourself right now does not mean that it has evaporated into thin air. It'll always be there. Maybe right now, it's just not available to you. And that's okay.