The key to breaking free from your creative block or “stuckness” is to first find where there’s blockage. For some, the blocks appear in the mind and manifest as perfectionism or imposter syndrome. For others, it may look more like exhaustion, lack of motivation or on a more physical level. If you’re looking to identify your creative block, I have a (free!) quiz called “Finding Your Creative Block” that will help you uncover where yours is at. It takes 2 minutes and comes with additional guidance and tips. For now, let’s talk about some of my favorite ways to get out of a creative funk.
How to Get Over a Creative Block
Identify Your Negative Core Beliefs
“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Unless you’re an expert in transcendental meditation or constantly in a zen state in the mountains somewhere, you’re probably familiar with the constant hammering and chatter in your mind. Sometimes our thoughts are centered around our memories. They can be comedic relief throughout our day and feel light. Other times, they can be quite critical, harsh and negative. Whatever the meaning or feeling behind the thought is, every thought and mindset is a pattern centered around our core beliefs.
What are core beliefs?
Core beliefs, whether they’re positive or negative, usually go all the way back to our childhood and grow deeper roots through significant circumstances and patterns in our life. Core beliefs are at the very center of how we view ourselves, other people, our past, our future and the world around us.
I’m sure you’ve confronted or come up against your core beliefs before. These thoughts and mindsets can either cause strain and stress, or allow us to be our true selves.
Negative core beliefs come up often in one’s creative journey. This could be thoughts of self-doubt, or feelings of jealousy or lacking, maybe even skepticism or imposter syndrome. While these negative core beliefs are common, they are, I believe, the true hindrance to fully expressing your creativity and art within.
So, one of the best ways to get over a creative block is to start with identifying YOUR negative core beliefs. This could look like starting with a question like, “What am I most afraid of?” or “Where does my perfectionism stem from?” Write it out in a journal to see what comes up. I address this in more detail in my course, The Art Within, and help you work through a powerful exercise on identifying and challenging your core beliefs.
Meditate, Meditate, Meditate
“Creativity is as boundless, spacious and limitless as the sky. We are born with it. It cannot be lost and it cannot be destroyed. It can only be forgotten.” -Andy Puddicombe, Headspace co-founder
I used to view meditation as “new age” or “woo,” and would have such a hard time with it. I thought you had to “stay still” and completely rid your mind of thoughts to be good at it. My first few times trying meditation, I hated it. I thought it wasn’t for me because I kept getting distracted or feeling bored. Now my body craves it. I can see a HUGE difference in the way my body feels, the way I think and the presence and awareness I have throughout my day afterwards. For me, meditation is a non-negotiable part of my morning routine now and is my #1 go-to for helping get out of a creative block or find peace and calm amidst chaos and stress.
One of the things I’ve found with my own creative blocks is that I’m constantly looking for distractions. The mind is really good at throwing curve balls and distracting us from the task at hand and removing us from the importance of stillness and boredom. The act of creativity is centered around the ability to do something with boredom, so becoming comfortable with being still and bored for 10, 15, 20 minutes is absolutely crucial and is the skill you’re developing when you practice meditation.
I’ve now been practicing meditation for about two years and have seen a huge improvement in the way I think, how ideas come to me and the visualization parts of my brain. The cool thing is, when you’re in a deep meditative state, it’s been linked to having the same effects as flow state! In meditation, the brain is producing Theta waves, which creates a heightened imagination, increases creativity and visualization! Dropping into meditation 5 or 10 minutes before painting is such an awesome way to fire up that creativity and remove those creative blocks in your practice.
Take Up Creative Writing
Sometimes I just don’t feel like painting. You feel me? Because this isn’t just a hobby for me, business and passion can sometimes get murky and painting can feel like a chore. One of my favorite practices for still filling up my creative cup without forcing myself to paint is creative writing. I’ll open up my favorite journal and start with my Flow State Writing Exercise. This is covered in the course The Art Within, but to get you started, just practice writing whatever comes to mind. You’re not showing this to anyone, so simply write it all down. It might end up sounding like gibberish, but oftentimes we start to uncover some uncovered parts of our minds like fears, anxious thoughts or even hopes. This is also called automatic writing and is such an amazing way to drop into flow and creativity without having to force yourself through a painting or working through a tutorial!
Have you tried other ways to remove your creative blocks? Or have you tried one of these practices? Comment below and let me know what’s worked for you!