Ask just about any creative professional and they will most likely tell you they have suffered from a creative block. It’s just a normal part of working in a career where your passions and talents meet.
I don’t really get blocked too often in my ability to write—working in a newsroom forced me to create content on demand. My blocks tend occur when I cannot make time or get time to focus on something or there are other things impeding on my creative time. I get frustrated when I have too many copywriting deadlines to meet and have no time for the “fun stuff.” Or, I feel like I need the perfect environment, plenty of unplanned hours ahead of me (and tons of coffee) to sit down and work on my passions.
Namely, I struggle in finding time to work on my magazine and book writing—two things that I’d love to focus on more but never seem to have time to do. These things also don’t produce money right away, so I’m more likely to focus on my copywriting projects and pressing deadlines. But over time, I’ve noticed that not being able to feed these “creative munchies” leaves me feeling depleted and frustrated, and “hungry” to nourish my creativity.
Look, I know it’s really hard to bring in the bacon with freelancing, and I’m a huge advocate of being practical. But sometimes you have to make time for that project you’ve always wanted to start (or finish). It’s not always easy to just dive into full creativity mode because you may be so focused on staying afloat as a freelancer that it’s hard to make time for your true passions. For instance, a designer may really want to focus on illustration instead of creating websites all day. These needs, or hungers, must be fed.
With that, I’m hoping to put together some advice that we can all use, and vow to take some of my own advice, too.
Get inspired. Whether you have writers block or you just never seem to have time to do the kinds of projects you want to, many people turn to basic inspiration to jump start their engines. But remember…inspiration is everywhere. You may not need to look at things in your field to be inspired. As a writer, I prefer to look at art, listen to music or read a new blog to get me motivated. Sometimes a walk outside, a bookstore browse or a new hobby gets me revved up. Be sure to look outside of your industry to get some much-needed inspiration. That can be all you need to get unblocked.
Set Aside a Day
Lately, I’ve been thinking about devoting one day to pounding out query letters to get magazine assignments and working on my book. I like to have hours stretched before me to do with whatever I would like, and the normal day with incoming projects and interruptions does not warrant that. But by making time to devote one day to your project of choice, you may be able to unblock everything by focusing on just one task.
Sometimes it’s worth it to grab your laptop bag and plug in at a library or a café. Or maybe you have a friend with an empty space during the workday where you can change up your location. If you are sensitive to energy make sure that your new location provides a positive atmosphere. For example, I can’t sit in a coffeehouse that’s too loud, or too hot or cold. Sometimes a lot of traffic walking past me disrupts me. All of these things have an impact on how you work, so if you’re venturing out of your home office or to any new place, make sure it’s a good one. And if you have set aside your big “creative munchies” day and are in a bad location, try a new one that fits better.
Alter Your Atmosphere
You may not have to go far from your home or office to get unblocked. Still stuck in a cube and moonlighting? Maybe some decorative prints will keep you unblocked and well-fed. Work in a home office? Try putting up some new art, rearranging the furniture or clearing out some clutter. It sounds weird to some but these things can definitely help you make time to fully enjoy the creativity process of your project.
Battle the Blabber
One of the things I thought could be blocking me up was the fear of failure. Have I been hiding behind not having a full day to devote to my writing, or am I really just scared of getting rejected? Examining the psychology of feeling blocked may help you to unblock—and yes, writing about it can help you to untangle some knots inside and be able to finally, finally create.