Beating creative block: overcoming blank-page overwhelm and letting your creative juices flow

Written by Charlotte Hamilton, Artist and Founder of Sugar Storm Studio

Being creative is good for you. It can allow us to express ourselves in really exciting ways, it can help us to feel free, to feel more like ourselves, and to really connect with others. Sometimes being creative comes really naturally, and other times, it just doesn’t. Creative block hits all of us in different ways and it can feel horrible, whether we’re creating for fun or for work. Sometimes we can think our way into a deeper block and get further away from starting anything, letting the overwhelm grow until we’ve beaten ourselves up and we’re no closer to starting.

The first step is recognising when you’re dealing with a creative block. Maybe you’ve been literally staring at a blank page and the ideas are just not coming, but sometimes it’s more sneaky than that. Maybe you’re ‘too busy’ to make a start on the creative project you so desperately want to do, or you’re getting a lot of ideas but you’re quick to shut them all down as being not good enough. If this sounds relatable, try some of my suggestions to get the creative juices flowing again.

Get outside and get moving

If you’re able to get out of the house and go for a walk, listening to music or a podcast and getting a change of scenery can really help, as well as getting out of your head and into your body. This is a good quick solution for when you’ve been stuck going round in circles or unable to see a way forward. Adding some fresh air and movement to your daily routine can really help keep the ideas flowing in the long term too.

Remove yourself from the situation

Sometimes we can find ourselves too close to our work, and the most important thing we can do is take a step back. If you’re able to, try taking a break and doing something unrelated (set a timer so you don’t get stuck in a procrastination loop!) or try talking it through with someone who isn’t involved in the work.

Surround yourself with inspiration

By creating a life that celebrates creativity in all forms, we can feel more free to express our own creativity. This means not only searching out inspiration for your own work, but reading, watching, listening to and wearing things that inspire you.

Be your own Inspiration

Looking for a new project and not sure where to start? You probably don’t need to look far to find plenty of ideas that you didn’t have time for, you forgot about, or they just never came to light. Rather than trying to create something from scratch, spend some time with your own work and ideas, and go back over any old notes, sketches and plans.

Take the pressure off

There are definitely benefits to deadlines and schedules, and maybe this isn’t an option, but what would happen if you just allowed a project to take as long as it takes? You can set yourself boundaries like making sure you work on a project for a certain amount of time, but sometimes the most amazing work needs time to evolve and come into the world in its own time.

Put the pressure on

In complete contrast, sometimes we need to set ourselves restrictions to get things done. Using timers, do-not-disturb functions, and having an accountability buddy can all help to give you a boost of pressure and motivation to get things started and flowing. It’s likely you already know whether you work best under pressure or with more freedom, so do what feels right for the way you work at your best.

Creative block affects all of us at some point, and can show up when it’s least convenient, so it’s helpful to create a toolkit of things you can do every day as part of a routine to keep your creative juices flowing, as well as an emergency plan for when you feel really stuck and you need to get out of a rut quickly. You can experiment with my suggestions and find what’s best for you, to create your own creative-block-defeating plan.

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