When there’s no gas left in the tank, getting from A to B becomes very difficult, and incredibly stressful. Breaking free from the shackles of writers block can be an incredibly liberating experience, but one which often can’t come soon enough.
Beating a creative slump
A setback, it’s been said, is a setup for a comeback – so treat it as such. Imagine it like a catapult – sometimes you have to get stretched really far back before gaining enough momentum to advance forward at high speed. (Whoa, deep).
Author Margaret Atwood said “I suggest not thinking of it as a block, but as part of the process… It’s a matter of your brain not working as fast as your fingers. Sometimes the best stuff needs to simmer, and we need to allow for that”.
If the process can be hurried along though, that’d be just swell for everyone. Try out these reliable strategies and see what works for you!
Inspiration can come from anywhere, in terms of the caverns of your mind, and your literal location. But if you’re stuck between the same four walls all day, you might find yourself treading the same old ground creatively.
If your own situation isn’t giving you any inspiration, head out to a park, a library or a café and do some people-watching. Gain inspiration from the people around you. What are their stories? What would they write/paint/sing about?
You may not even need to leave the house – according to a study from Stanford University, even walking on a treadmill indoors, facing a blank wall can do the same thing for your creativity as going outside. The physical motion is perhaps more important than the change of scenery – so if you’re lucky enough to have a walking/cycling machine, there’s another excuse to actually use the damn thing!
Listen to Music
We’ve all got that one track that makes our hair stand up every time, or takes us back to an emotional moment in our lives. If you’re feeling void of any inspiration, whack on a playlist of songs that will get your creative juices flowing.
Depending on my mood, sometimes my muse can be a bit of blistering death metal, other days my muse can be, well… Muse.
Many though, myself included, would concede the best music to work to (in terms of actually getting stuff done) is mostly minimalist or instrumental. If you’re looking for some fresh tunes to work with, we’ve put together a Spotify playlist of beautiful or epic music – let us know what you think!
Take a break
Can’t get in the right frame of mind? Maybe now isn’t the best time for the task at hand. Clear your mind by running a bath, doing some yoga, shooting some zombies, however you like to relax.
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke famously experienced a severe bout of writers block following the success of ‘OK Computer’, before overcoming it with the polarisingly oddball ‘Kid A’.
“My missus said to me, ‘Go back to drawing, put your energy where it won’t be judged for a little while,’ and it really worked”, Yorke told Dazed and Confused. “Sometimes when you think you’ve got writers block it’s probably the best stuff you’ve ever done, but you can’t even hear because your brain isn’t in the right place.”
Trying to be a perfectionist can be one of the main causes of a creative slump. Once you loosen your inhibitions, you may eventually inspire yourself to come up with some truly awesome stuff, if not a bit bizarre.
Smash through it
Author of The Art of Work, Jeff Goines, says ‘You overcome writers block by writing’, and of course this can be applied to all creative arts. Go ahead and produce a load of rubbish. It’s not wasted time if you’re flushing out your bad ideas – and somewhere within one of your bad ones might be the foundations of a good one.
If you’re in the middle of a project and it’s not going anywhere, throw in a curveball. Writing a TV show? Kill someone off. Composing a song? Take a risk and whack a funk interlude in there. The change of pace might open up a few doors you didn’t realise were closed.
“Write drunk, edit sober” said Ernest Hemingway. It’s certainly one way to enter an altered mental state. So, if all else fails, throw your TV out of the window, shout at a lamppost, buy a kebab. Whatever gets you in the mood to pick up the laptop and get back to work is a good thing, right?
And if the lack of creative flair is because you’re feeling numb, at least the hangover should sort that right out.
Finally, here’s a little something to think about. Go forth and create!
Incredible Hulk Photo by: Rooners Toy Photography