Five More Ways to Blast Creative Blocks

by Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. on 08/07/2014

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Sometimes we get stuck, creatively.  We reach an impasse or a seemingly impossible obstacle or challenge.   Continuing on from our earlier post on Five Ways to Blast Creative Blocks here are some more:

6.  Be a troubled teen. 

Consider a sulky, sullen, hormone-ravaged, limit-testing teenager.  How would they approach the project?

If you don’t have handy access to a teen, re-awaken your past:  Think about aspects of your teenage life.  What were your favorite foods?  Clothes?  Friends?  Activities?  What did you like best and least about school?  What were your favorite books, music, films and television programs? What did you wear?

Ideally, jot down everything you can remember about your teen years.  What gave you joy at that time?  What issues did you face?  What was your personality like? What was a typical school day like?  What was a typical summer day for you?  Describe your home. Your neighborhood. Your goals and ambitions.

To enrich your recollections, ask a friend or family member what kind of teen you were.  Inquire about things they recall from your adolescence.

Again, to the extent you can replicate experiences from your youth, the better.  Listen to some music you loved at that time. Don clothes reminiscent of what you wore in your teen years.

Once you’ve revived your inner teenager, take a fresh look at your project.  How would your adolescent self proceed?

7.  Travel

Travel provides new sights, hear new sounds, taste new tastes, smell new scents, feel new energy while meeting new people, locations and cultures.

It can take the form of an afternoon spent exploring a new neighborhood or a daytrip to a nearby forest or a vacation in a new country. The more different the destination is from your experience thus far, the greater the impact on your creativity. Yet even a walk around the block can disrupt a creative block.

Now it’s most effective to travel in person but sometimes that’s not practical or possible.  (It would amazing to witness the view from the top of Mount Everest but few of us have the physical stamina and the financial means to make that happen).

Thanks to technology, we can explore much of the world easily, efficiently and economically. We can watch foreign films, travel television shows and documentaries.  We can survey the world’s heritage sites and major art collections online.

8. Ask someone.

Tell a trusted friend or colleague about your creative project and your current block.  Ask how they would proceed.

Note the encouragement to be selective here.  Be prudent in your choice of confident.  Only consult with people who you completely trust — people who inspire you and make your heart sing.  People who truly love you unconditionally.

Avoid mentioning your block to anyone who might have any ulterior motive in advising you. A stranger on Facebook.  A possible competitor.  A family member who is trying to ‘protect’ you from ending up in the gutter, heartbroken and destitute so you might as well pack in this particular project and get a nice, safe office job, honey.  (To pick a random example).

9.  Consult a hero.

Who are your creative heroes — living and not?  Whom do you most admire, personally and professionally?

If you could consult with *anyone*, whose brain would you most want to pick?  With whom would you love to discuss your project?

If the person is living, you do have the option of reaching out to them.  Thanks to today’s technology and social media, it’s possible to communicate with just about anyone.  It doesn’t hurt to ask.

If your creative hero is not reachable — or not inclined to answer — you can still ask for their advice in absentia.  Ask yourself:  How would my hero proceed with my project?  If so-and-so was in this situation, what would they do?

10.  Take a walk.

Recent research has proven that taking a brief walk boosts creativity.  It doesn’t matter if you walk inside or outside, oddly.  An eight minute walk anywhere is enough to significantly increase your creative juices and ideas.


Creative blocks can be annoying, frustrating and concerning — but they are also temporary and solvable.  Try any of the preceding techniques to see what works for you.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Clarke Residential September 2, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Every artist is faced with creative block throughout their career. One of my most interesting blocks was when I worked as a graphic designer and had an opportunity to design cartoon characters for an ice cream franchise. I was so excited but I kept putting it off.

Lisa Rothstein September 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Clarke, I hear you! You’re not alone. I waited almost TWO YEARS to take a mentor up on an offer to help with my cartooning career. I forget who said, “Discipline weighs ounces; regret weighs tons.” Of course our blocks are not (always) due to a lack of discipline but more likely fear of failure or success. But ironically, I found discipline can help here. When I started doing a LITTLE cartooning every morning, and made it a ritual, the outcome seemed less fraught with meaning as I just did my daily routine. Eventually I had amassed a body of work, enough to show the mentor. If you can “trick” yourself into just starting on a project, even just experimentally, for short chunks of time, over and over, you may find you’ve created something you’re excited about showing, without realizing it.

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