“I’m going through a creative block.” I bet most people have heard this phrase at least once in their professional lives, some more than others, depending on the nature of their job or the industry they work in.
Creativity is not a soldier that reports to duty when summoned. Like everything that is related to the mind, your ability to come up with great ideas is affected by external and internal factors.
If you’re suffering from the dreaded creative block OR if you’ve always thought that you don’t have a creative fiber in your being, maybe it’s time for a little introspection. See if any of these four things are halting you from becoming a creative genius.
Need for approval:
While working on a project, the moment you start to think “I wonder if my boss or colleague will like this” you’re shoving yourself into a downward spiral.
Ever wondered why some artists, writers or advertisers wear crazy hair and outfits? It’s because they’re making a statement – I don’t care what anyone thinks about me. While I’m not suggesting that we all go rogue and become hippies, I do believe that the need for peer approval can hurt you as a creative. It limits your thought process and gives the control of your most valuable trait to someone else.
Although it is very important to keep your audiences’ needs and persona in mind, the key is to not overthink it. At least let your mind loose in the brainstorming session. You can always mould your ideas to suit the guidelines later.
Fear of failure:
Nobody likes to fail. It sucks. Some days when you’re running low on self-esteem or not feeling confident about your skills, the fear of failure can creep into every step you take, every line of copy you write or every idea you come up with in the brainstorming sessions.
It all starts with the “What if”. What if I don’t come up with a great copy? What if my work doesn’t resonate with the audience? What if my client hates it?
If you actively don’t stop your brain from going down the “what if” lane, you soon take a turn towards the “I Can’t” road. I can’t come up with a great copy. I can’t produce work that resonates with my audience. I can’t meet my clients’ expectations. There’s that downward spiral again.
The best way to cope with the fear of failure is to talk to someone. When you say the words out loud you realize that you were probably making a mountain out of a molehill. Also, remind yourself of your successes in the past. they can help you feel confident again.
This one’s pretty simple. You’re not at your best when you’re tired.
Deadlines are great; they make the industries of the world go round. They can even entice some brilliant ideas. But sometimes pressure cookers produce more steam than food.
At times (and I’ve been a victim of this myself) organizations take advantage of fresh graduates. They are all pumped up and ready to go to any lengths to make their mark in the business. They can work overtime, long nights, even weekends. They’re often told “this is how it works in the industry” to keep them from complaining. If or when that happens to you, don’t fall for it. Chronic late sittings and working on weekends is not the norm. It shouldn’t be.
Not sleeping for enough hours is not a badge of honor. Do not trust your caffeine binge to keep you perky forever. You can’t force creative ideas out of you. Let them come naturally. Give your mind and body a break. You might have met that deadline but chances are it’s not the best you can do.
PS: I often get my best ideas from my dreams.
Lack of stimulus:
Most creative people are obsessive readers, binge watchers or social butterflies. They usually have diverse interests and have significant knowledge about everything.
A creative mind needs excitement, an adrenaline rush, it needs stimulation. Creative block usually hits you when you’re not well informed about the subject, you’ve been working on the same thing for ages or when you’re too scared to start.
Once your brain receives the right stimulus; a quote in a book, a scene in a movie, some news on the television, the ideas come flooding in.
So for a constant flow of creative ideas keep your brain well oiled. Mix things up. If your mind is saturated from a task, ask your boss to let you work on another project for a while. Get away from the blank paper or Word Document and most importantly, as Sean Callahan from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions suggests, “…don’t let anyone tell you that reading a book or watching a show isn’t part of the job.”
How do you cope with a creativity block? I would love to know. Please share in the comments below.