Getting Past a Creative Block

This originally appeared as a guest post on Hello, Clementine.
Original image via Mikko Saari

Original image via Mikko Saari

We’ve all been there. You’re working on a project and it’s going great, and then suddenly… you’re stuck. And nothing you try helps move you forward. You can’t think where to go next, your momentum has flatlined, and a deadline is probably ticking nearer. I wear a lot of titles (designer, blogger, screen printer, writer) and I can get hit with creative blocks in any one of them. So I’ve had plenty of opportunities to narrow in on a few ways that help me get past those blocks:

1. Switch tasks/projects/focus. If you’re like me, you have lots of creative projects going on at once, and not all in the same ‘discipline’ so to speak. Not all of them have the same level of urgency, either; maybe a few have sat on the back burner for awhile. If you find yourself stuck on your main or most urgent project, try changing tacks. Pick up one of your other projects and tinker with that for awhile – an hour, a day, a week, whatever you can manage or whatever it takes. Because sitting and scowling at the thing that has you blocked very rarely accomplishes anything other than making you more frustrated. And working on the problems of a different project might just give you an idea for how to get past the block on the original project.

2. Take a break. Get completely away from whatever you’re working on. Take a nap. Walk the dog. Read a book, watch a movie. Cook something. Take a bubble bath. Go the park. Do some yoga. Find something solitary and relaxing, where your mind can just power down and drift. Solitary is key, because the effort and concentration required to socialize doesn’t really give your brain the down time we’re looking for here.

3. Find your Zen chore. This might just be me, but sometimes when I’m blocked and know I need to take a break, I feel like I shouldn’t take one because I really need to be doing something productive with that time. Yes, I know all the options in #2 are productive in their own way, but sometimes they feel too much like fun and not enough like work, even if it will help my work improve. My solution to this is Zen chores. I work from home, so there is always some sort of housework needing to be done. And I’ve found that certain chores let me just space out and give my brain that break it needs, while I’m still accomplishing something that needs to be done. For me, this is doing dishes. To be clear, I don’t actively *like* doing dishes, but it is an ongoing chore and doesn’t really require you to think about what you’re doing. You can zone out. Folding laundry is another one. It can be something out of the house, too: grocery shopping, going to the car wash, etc. And if you’re getting creatively blocked at the office, I’m sure there’s equivalent things you can do there – maybe accounting is your Zen thing, or organizing files, or archiving emails.

One of these (or a combination) usually works to help me get past my block. How about you? Do you have any creative block busting tips or secrets?


Hi, I’m Amanda!

I’m a self-employed graphic designer by day, and a crafty hungry bookworm by night. Dragonflight Dreams is where I write about books, recipes, internet goodies, life things, crafty projects, Austin happenings, and more.

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