How to Work Through Your Creative Block, and Deal With Creativity Killers

Just this morning, my mind was flooded with so many amazing and creative ideas that I just couldn’t keep up with myself. I was so determined and ready to start the day strong when it hit me like a ton of bricks. All it took was one split second for my inspiration, determination, and motivation to completely die. I fell victim to a creativity killer. All those beautiful creations in my mind are now gone and all that’s left of them is a chalk outline.

Creativity killers can completely destroy anybody’s creative process and sometimes it’s very hard to recover from them. I can’t tell you how many times I have fallen victim to this. What I needed this morning was to slow down somehow to let my creative process do its thing at a normal pace. My mind was racing and I just couldn’t keep up with everything I wanted and needed to do.

I needed a speed bump in my little creative world to help me from crashing into that brick wall that killed my creativity. So I retraced my steps and that’s when I had an “Aha” Moment!

Rather than sit here and tell you how to stop Creativity Killers all together, I’m going to show you how to turn them into creative speed bumps that you can incorporate into your creative process.

You are your Own Worst Enemy

Yes, that’s right. You can be your own creativity killer by simply being a perfectionist. So many times we strive to perfect our artform that we end up discouraging ourselves along the way. If things aren’t going as planned or the end product isn’t exactly what you had pictured, you may just start thinking you aren’t good enough which in turns kills your creative process. Self-doubt shows its ugly face and the feeling of not being good enough sets in.

Ask yourself this question. Who decides what is considered perfect? What you may think is not good enough may actually be perfect in somebody else’s eyes. One of the very first photos I sold is actually one of my least favorite ones. I was very reluctant to even add it to my portfolio. Had I not, I would have never made that sale. I still don’t care for that photo very much but it still taught me a valuable lesson, literally. It’s okay to make mistakes and it’s definitely more than okay not being perfect.

“We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.”

Bob Ross

Being a perfectionist is not something you can cure overnight.

I’m a huge perfectionist, so trust me when I tell you that you can’t just tell a perfectionist to stop trying to be perfect. That’s like telling a smoker to stop smoking from one day to the next. Although it can be done with enough willpower and mind conditioning, it’s still not that easy. So let’s use it in your creative process instead.

Being a perfectionist is not always a bad thing though. For Creatives, perfectionism brings on a sense of drive and motivation that inspires us to create something. So use that drive and nurture the motivation and inspiration that came with it.

When you start feeling like something isn’t going as planned or isn’t looking “perfect”, look at it from a different angle and ask yourself, what have you done right so far? Focus your mind on a more positive point of your project before the full negative mentality of perfectionism hits. By keeping a positive frame of mind, you hold on to that motivation to continue moving forward. Any time you start feeling that negative little tug, make sure to tag in your positive side. 

What are you afraid of?

Fear is one of the biggest creativity killers out there. There are so many things to be afraid of but the top ones that stand out are failure, criticism, taking risks and being alone. Once again, not something so easily cured. For some, deep hypnosis is needed in order to suppress their fears. So let’s not get rid of them completely. Let’s use them carefully and to our advantage.

Every day, somebody fails at one thing or another.

Without it, there wouldn’t be opportunities to learn and keep moving forward. Maybe your fear of failure is derivative of a past experience or somebody else you know. No matter what has happened in your past, you should use those experiences as life lessons in order to continue on your creative path.

“You just focused on the bad stuff when all you had to do was let go of the past and keep moving forward.”

Lewis (Meet the Robinsons, 2007)

The only way to embrace your fear and move past it is to respect it, accept it, and use it to motivate you. Let’s say that again together. Respect it. Accept it. Use it. Don’t cower in the face of fear. Hold your head up high and brave through it. Accept that fear will always be with you but know that you can handle it. Use that bravery as your motivation and determination to push right past it and continue on your creative path. If you end up failing, pick yourself right back up, learn from it and start again.

This is the same process you have been taught since the day you were born. We were all born not knowing how to do a single thing. You didn’t learn how to walk without falling nor did you learn how to ride a bike without gaining a few scrapes and bruises along the way. Failure was inevitable yet we all were taught as children to keep trying until we succeeded. It was encouraged and applauded. Somewhere down the road of becoming adults, we stopped thinking it was okay to fail and started fearing it rather than accepting that it’s a part of life. Here’s a great opportunity to listen to your inner child!

If success were easily achieved, we’d all be successful without an ounce of humbleness and knowledge of how it’s truly accomplished. Don’t be that spoiled rich kid that doesn’t have to work hard to get to the top and ends up not appreciating it. Respect the process, accept it and use everything you have learned to get where you’re going. Not only will you have gained so much more insight, but you’ll be a stronger and smarter person in return.

“From failure, you learn. From success? Not so much.”

Billie Robinson (Meet the Robinsons, 2007)

The same concept goes for both criticism and taking risks.

No matter what your creative path is, you will always come across somebody that will criticize you and your work. There are cruel people in this world that are hell-bent on bringing you down to their level. Even if they aren’t intentionally cruel, they are still driven by negativity. Misery loves company. Remember, those that try to knock you down are battling their own fears and simply just don’t know how to respect them, accept them and use them in their own path. Instead, they let their fears rule them and cloud their judgment. They are likely jealous of you and all that you have become.

You are good enough and you can achieve something great!

Embrace your fear of what others are going to say or think of you. Let it inspire you to bring more positivity into your creative path. Who knows, you may just actually make a pessimist become an optimist just by showing your courage.

Once you have accepted that critics are out there and trust yourself enough to deflect their negativity, use that newfound courage to think outside the box and start taking more risks. Nothing spectacular is achieved by following set rules and restrictions all the time. One must look at things from a different angle to see them in a better light. Get out of your comfort zone and start taking some risks. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you may find on the other side of the fence.

It’s okay to be alone.

There’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely. A lot of people tend to shy away from the idea of solitude. When was the last time you saw somebody going to the movies or eating at a restaurant alone (not during their work lunch hour)? Most of the time, you will see people paired up or in groups simply because they are too afraid of doing anything by themselves. Believe it or not, they may even be embarrassed about being seen alone.

That was me. I was more embarrassed than I was afraid. I thought all eyes were on me thinking that I was pitiful and just didn’t have anybody to share my life with. Let me share a little secret with you. Nobody. Cares. Seriously, nobody cares whether you are alone or not. Nobody is staring you down judging your life. And if you do see somebody looking at you, what does it matter? You’ll probably never see that person ever again, so who cares what they think? They may just be looking at you with envy because you actually had the courage to do something by yourself.

So once again, let’s use this fear and turn it into a creative speed bump.

This is a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and make time for yourself. Solitude is absolutely vital in a Creative’s path. Instead of letting that fear stop you from doing things alone, turn it around and use its emotional energy to give you a sense of curiosity. Stop thinking about the negative outcomes and start wondering about what new adventures await you that will open up new doors in your creative journey. Turn those knots in your stomach into butterflies and get excited!

Take a walk in the park, go see a movie (not on your couch), take yourself out for a lunch date, or go to the beach and enjoy the sounds of the crashing waves at your feet. Whatever you decide to do on your own, do it full out. Don’t half fast it. Embrace it and truly enjoy it.

Spreading yourself too thin

A lot of creatives tend to multitask on various projects because they have a passion for each and every one of them. This was the creativity killer I mentioned at the beginning that left my creative ideas as chalk outlines. Inspiration flooded my mind bringing on new and exciting ideas. All of which I wanted to get started on immediately. I was beyond excited and anxious. Between researching, writing, photographing, and designing, my mind went completely blank and started shutting down.

Your mind can and will get very overwhelmed when you take on too many creative tasks at once. What ends up happening is one or all of your projects will fall short and not reach their full potential resulting in a mediocre end result. Or worse, you end up getting burnt out and not accomplishing any of your tasks at all.

A creative’s mind is a very passionate mind.

Without that passion, we wouldn’t have any interest in what we are actually trying to accomplish. With that passion comes a great deal of emotions. Research has shown that creative’s have a higher amount of sensitivity for both negative and positive emotions such as pain, suffering, and happiness. This tends to leave us very vulnerable and exposed when something disrupts our creative process. When you spread yourself too thin and start feeling that overwhelming sense of anxiety and stress, you open yourself to that raw emotion and may end up doubting yourself and feeling discouraged.

Some may say that you should find your niche and not focus so much on the other things you are less passionate about. This will increase the odds of mastering one over the other which ultimately ends up being more rewarding. Although I do believe it’s very important to find a niche, I don’t agree with sacrificing other passions in your life. After all, Passion is what fuels a Creative’s soul. It’s what makes us who were are. By sacrificing other passions, you may just be denying yourself a richer and more enjoyable life. You are most definitely capable of mastering various creative pursuits. Will it happen overnight? Absolutely not. You must be willing to work hard to accomplish all your creative goals and learn to have patience.

The key is finding a way to balance each and every one of them.

Let’s put that creative mind of yours to work here. In order to balance each creative pursuit, you must prioritize them. Only you can determine which one is more important than the other. Get your organizational skills warmed up here and start jotting down some notes. If you don’t care to write notes done, open up your word processor or google docs and start typing them up. I also like to use Windows’ Sticky Notes. They are built in “Post Its” for Windows.

Figure out which is more important to you.

Create a new sticky note or page for each and then start figuring out which one you enjoy the most. Start making notes on what needs to get done for each one. How long it’s going to take, what materials do you need, what research have you done, etc.

Only you can decide what is more important in each task. By writing everything down, it gives your ideas an opportunity to take form. Think of it as your first stepping stone in achieving a new creative project.

Schedule time for each task.

You can either spend an equal amount of time for each or maybe spend some more time on the ones you enjoy the most. It’s up to you. If you’re not too great at keeping track of your time, there are plenty of online programs and mobile apps that you can use to help you out such as The Easy Organizer. It’s pretty neat and definitely worth checking out.

It’s up to you on how you decide to use your time. This part is essential in keeping you balanced and not feeling overwhelmed. If your projects don’t have deadlines, create your own. Give yourself goals. This gives you something to work towards; a sense of motivation. Nothing feels better than knowing you accomplished a set goal. Create a calendar and start setting milestones you want to reach. Make sure you keep taking notes the more you progress. If you’re anything like me, I tend to lose track of a lot of ideas if I don’t jot them down somewhere as soon as I think of it. This is where a bullet journal comes in very handy!

Are you ready to get back in the game?

No matter which creativity killers you come across, you should always try to find ways to turn them into creative speed bumps. Use the drive and inspiration that perfectionism provides. Focus on the positives and move past those pesky negatives. Respect, accept and use your fears to motivate you into doing new and amazing things. Embrace the gift of solitude and schedule a much-needed artist date with yourself. Keep yourself organized and on track of your creative pursuits. Take things one step at a time. Eventually, you will master all that you want to master. You have the power to accomplish anything you want in life. All you need is the pure desire to truly achieve your goals.

Remember, creativity killers can be fatal, but only if you allow them. The list of creativity killers can go on and on past the ones we’ve gone over here. If you fall victim to one and don’t know how to get yourself back into the game, feel free to reach out to me and we can work on turning them into creative speed bumps together.

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The Tinker Bug
The Tinker Bug

A stay at home Mama that has been bitten by the Tinker Bug. Sharing and creating content that makes life easier one idea at a time!

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