We’ve all been there: that feeling of dispassion you get when you sit down to complete a creative project that was assigned to you. It’s that moment that leads to days, which leads to weeks when you can’t seem to consider your work finished. It’s the seemingly endless search for inspiration, which leaves you wondering if you’re really a creative type after all.
Having always created, creative block is something I’ve experienced, often, in my life. Inktober, this year, has been no exception, and for that reason, I am partial to the idea of the official list of drawing prompts. Each morning, I check the prompt list online and spend my day with it thought in the back of my mind. This allows ideas to form, despite my busy schedule. Sometimes, I briefly stop to sketch during the day when a thought occurred to me. By the end of the day, I usually have some concepts I can work with.
I can’t profess to know why creative block happens, but it does seem to be a dilemma that most, if not all, creative types encounter. Since it’s so common and so frustrating to feel the drive to create and yet be seemingly stuck in limbo, I thought I would share some strategies that I’ve picked up along the way to cope with this particular pitfall.
I believe that it’s important to have a sense of humor about your artwork and your artistic process. As an artist, it’s easy to become distracted by the idea that you want to like your finished product every single time you pick up a pen, paintbrush, or camera. However, it’s unrealistic that every piece you create will be your best work. As I tell my adolescent art students: sometimes we just have to let out whatever we have onto the piece of paper, and if it looks like junk we can just laugh. There’s no permanence to art; only growth.
When one is lacking inspiration and experiencing creative block, it’s imperative to find some new ideas. The most obvious way to gain new ideas is by experiencing new things. I like to get out of the house and surround myself with artwork, people, and places that are new to me. Stretch your brain and let new thoughts blossom.
Another tried and true approach to dealing with creative block is to keep an inspiration book, folder, Pinterest board, or whatever! The point is to organize some ideas, images, or writings that you find meaningful. Create a space full of things that delight, captivate, and excite you. I, personally, have kept a binder of magazine pages, photographs, poems, and other inspirational artifacts since I was a young teenager, and I am now an avid Pinterest user. I find it immensely helpful to look at these miniature muses. In fact, I still enjoy looking at the entries in my oldest binders.
Occasionally, when I’m really stuck and feel driven to create something but just don’t have an idea, I will revisit an old piece, one that never quite felt finished, and I will make some updates. In that way, I get myself working and creating at the very least. If I’m lucky, this will lead to some new ideas; if not, at least I’ve used some skills.
If you find yourself dealing with creative block, consider trying some of these methods. Go on with confidence and enthusiasm. Create! Because that’s what you were meant to do.
-Avery Gomez (Art Editor)