Entrepreneurs, side hustlers, and creatives all understand one very important thing: it is not your skills, your education, or any of that noise that makes you who you are.
Rather, it’s your passion and creativity.
It’s when inspiration hits, and hustle turns to flow. When you lose days caught in simply creating. Those times are when colors are brighter, you walk with your head held higher, and know you can conquer the world. Nothing could ever knock you down.
Except when the flow stops. Or never even starts
“Okay don’t freak out, give me a minute, it’ll come to me” you think to yourself as you stare at a blank screen. Or canvas. Or hold your instrument. Or whatever your medium of choice is.
A moment goes by, and, nothing.
Then, slowly (or suddenly) all the thoughts start.
What if everything else was a fluke?
What if I can’t think of anything?
I have no idea wtf I’m doing
And for as much self- worth and self-confidence you find in the moments of creative inspiration, you start tearing yourself down, just for not having the ever elusive muses on speed dial.
The problem is, spending too much time in both extremes can take its toll on the larger creative process.
Think about it—if you’re riding high on a flow of productivity and get into the mindset of “this is how it should be, this is great.” you may start to believe that the only times you can create are when the stars align. The thing to remember is, that’s not necessarily true. Sometimes it takes time to get to the state of flow. So, it’s best to start if you think you may have an idea or may feel a twinge of inspiration, because it just may turn into full blown flow.
Additionally, if you find yourself stuck in the idea that drawing a blank at the start of a project means it’s just not going to happen, you’re all but creating a self-fulfilling prophesy and larger creative block in your mind.
When a moment comes and you’re hit by a brick of non-inspiration, there are some pretty simple steps you can take to rise above and find your flow once again.
Quite simply to start, the most imperative thing to do when feeling creatively blocked is to acknowledge it. And not judge it. Being non-judgmental about the block and not connecting it to a deeper meaning about your skills or value as a person is essential.
No matter how long a loss of creativity or inspiration lasts, it’s important to not associate it with feelings of self-worth or capability. That will 100% just make it worse and likely create a cycle of increased stress and self-critique.
Because creatives like us find so much identity in the full creative process, even a small hesitancy can spiral into a full blown freeze.
Often, people have a handful of things that start to indicate they’re reaching some sort of burn-out. To get an initial idea of this, think back on times when you’ve had a total creative block and look for trends such as being easily distracted or hesitant to start a project. Then, you can know what to watch for and use them as signs to step away and take a break from that project or type of work.
Once you have that self-awareness, you can give it space. But, it is essential to not place any judgment or value on it occurring. It is just a moment in time that is happening.
When you are simply aware of it without judgment, you’re able to make a choice about what to do without creating additional pressure.
Then, there are a different couple things that can be done.
First, do a quick check to see if all of your basic needs have been met. It sounds so simple but not being rested enough or being hungry can drastically influence your ability to think and be creative. And, it can be such an easy fix!
Another thing to try is simply moving, and maybe move in a way you haven’t tried before or doing something that isn’t your go-to for exercise. The mind-body connection is so strong, and research is showing it being stronger and stronger everyday; so if your mind is in a bit of a frozen state, chances are your body has also gotten complacent.
If you’re a runner, go get in a cycling class. If you’re a yogi, maybe find a place that does aerial yoga. It can really be whatever you want. Just so long as it’s something you haven’t done or haven’t done in a while. You’ll quickly get a new perspective and get your brain firing off neurons in a new way and likely blazing a trail for creativity to flow.
Another route you could try is to simply develop a list of things that have helped you break out of a creative rut before that you can utilize. The most common things I’ve seen clients cite as being helpful include things as simple as going for a walk, changing the music they’ve been listening to, and looking at other people’s art from anywhere like a museum or even Pinterest. Personally, I’m a fan of switching up workouts. The handy thing with a list is they can start from the easiest or most accessible options first.
Then, if those initial and easy items don’t work, they clients start to think of the block in a bigger picture way and make changes from there. Something like that can help you know if perhaps it’s time to get another perspective from an outside source like a book, podcast, or even coach to help get through the block.