I like to have a steady stream of stuff to listen to while working. Here’s a book that I got on tape (or CD, whatever). I’m very fascinated in the visual system of the brain, and this book talks about some of the strangest things when it comes to not only the malfunction but also the capability of the mind. It’s really fascinating, and if you like science and stories of illusion then this book is a no-brainer.
Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
(This is part 4 of my creativity series, Take Charge of Your Creativity.)
Overcome Creative block
OK, I have read up on creative block, asked other artists what they do, and compiled a ton of information for you to print out and take a bath in. Since this topic has been covered by so many, my goal in this post is to make this a hub of information for you to reference and get ideas that work best for you when overcoming creative block. If you can’t find a way to resolve your creative block issues after using the resources on this blog, then may God have mercy on your soul.
After going through all the techniques, methods, and the “10 easy steps to blah, blah, blah” I have detected a pattern that has emerged when it comes to this issue. Although there seems to be many remedies to what ails you, I found that all of these methods fall into one of Three categories:
- You’re too distracted: This occurs when there are things in your personal life affecting your ability to concentrate on your work, and overall ambition. This can be anything from sickness and injury, to a death in the family. If you have a bad work situation or a drug/alcohol problem, these things can be difficult to overcome. Where the resolutions to these issues can be anything from adjustment of priorities, personal conviction, or significant bereavement remember that we all experience hard times in our lives and know that it's possible for you to pull through and carry on (and that I wish you the best).
- You’re not distracted enough: This is the most common issue and it has to do with focusing too hard on the creative task at hand. Your conscious mind is pretty weak compared to what's going on behind the scenes. So often it's a good idea to get yourself out of the way and let the ideas come to you. This requires you to relinquish control and go with the flow. Remember, this is a skill and can only be used proficiently through practice.
- Bad habits:You are inspired and want to draw, but you just cant seem to put pen to paper. This is a result of bad habits, plain and simple. You have trained yourself to value other activities over your work, so you end up doing those things first and tell yourself "there's not enough time in the day." For this, my own personal advice is that you take a "pleasure diet." Only allow yourself to do the things you like to do AFTER you have drawn in your sketch book or finished a painting. This is the first step to retrain your brain to draw before getting a cup of coffee with your friends.
Below I have a few websites for you to look at. When reading thorough the material, keep these categories in mind and I hope it will help you to best diagnose your situation and guide you to the right path.
Now, I asked all sorts of artists to contribute their ideas on this issue and at the very top we have some of the moderators of Team Awesome. (thanks guys)
Q: "What's your most effective remedy to overcome your creative block?"
"If I'm stuck on a challenging art assignment, or I've exhausted all my ideas figuring out a composition or pose, I normally recruit a second set of eyes to take a fresh look at the problem with me. Getting peer critique is invaluable. Most of the time your peers won't directly tell you what to paint (unless it's something glaring like an anatomy issue), but they might offer a different approach to your problem, or tell you you're asking the wrong questions.Aaron B Miller
A recent example would be Marc asking me something like "Is that your favorite scene from the book? No? What is your favorite scene, then? Well, why aren't you painting _that_?"
If the problem is not knowing what I want to paint for myself personally, I like to get involved in projects that aren't directly related to painting. For example, I started a food blog when I hit a creative block with my paintings late last year. Sometimes those projects can loop back to an inspiring idea for a piece of art, or just provide some distraction so I'm not nervous about the creative block until I figure out what I need to paint next."
"I've had ideas come from not doing the thing I'm doing. Like go for a run or take the dogs for a walk. No one is inspired by a blank canvas and you need some stimulation. Knowing that straying too far can be harmful though and will be more running away from the situation. Sometimes just a good night sleep or even a nap works for me."
"I go for a run, play with my son, work out, sketch something else, play a game on my iPhone, or really anything other than focus on the block on my current assignment. If I'm under deadline, I think Cynthia is right. Get friends whose opinion you respect to weigh in and give you critique and paint-overs."
And many more...
Mark Molchan "Stop creating. Go wash the dishes, clean the house, eat lunch. The mind is then releaved of pressure and free to do what it wants...the solutions tend to appear out of nowhere. I've stopped drawing in frustration, gone upstairs to vaccuum, and as soon as I turned it on, the answer popped into my head. Now I have a dirty house."
creativeSage: "If I'm blocked I will begin drawing what I know. The exercise warms up the creative side of the brain and gets it into productive mode." For example I will just start doodling something that I love to draw or blocking out shapes on a page looking for cool silhouettes. If I'm working on a story page I'll doodle the character doing things that are in character for them before trying to work out the other problems such as camera, lighting and color.
Liffey: "It's OK to put down your pencil. Go outside, exercise, socialize, revitalize. Inspiration doesn't come from sitting alone in your room, it comes from living life."shrunkendesigner: "Get out and experience the world and breath in some outside air, let the sun lick your skin and day dream about things. Remember to cut yourself a break. Read a novel and, soon enough, you'll be itching to get back with new ideas that you are eager to get down on paper."Amit Dutta: (edited for length) "A few things have worked for me, and a couple are wildly different approaches. 1. Paint your way through it... 2. Take a Break... 2b. See Something New... 3. Revert to studies or your most fun "go to" subject matter to stop the thinking... 4. Try a completely new process ... experimentation with the tools. It sometimes kickstarts things."
Walid Feghali: "Tea and music."Marucha: "Playing a game, like video-games, going to bookstore with hubby or listening to music usually works for me. And just general stress-free relaxation... a lot of stuff comes to me when I am just in the zone with some music. Everyone has that one thing they do to get ideas I think. I take pictures of things, bring a sketchbook with me everywhere and just generally think like an artist and write things down in a journal... I find the more you act like an artist, the more you will feel like one... you have to own it I guess."
tiong1: "I learned an interesting technique lately. After you look at lots of reference, you just need to close your eyes, relax, and let ideas come."
Joshua Calloway "Edit copy, paste, transform, change layer to darken or lighten. Then look for new shapes."
I think it's important to know that you're not alone and like any job you do, there will be challenges to overcome. I hope this series has helped you put some tools in your belt to help you overcome the next creative challenge and embrace your creative side.
Thanks for reading, see you next time.