The need to create is a shared desire among artists, writers, musicians, and even bloggers. But, sometimes we creatives hit a mental block and often find ourselves stressed, overwhelmed and unable to produce original ideas. – Lori McNee
This happens to me from time to time, so I compiled a list of my proven ways to overcome mental blocks & boost creativity.
1. Set Aside a Time & Place to Create:
This may seem obvious, but many creative people have busy lives and find themselves frustrated with little or no time to create. In order to develop your own creative talents, you will have to set aside some time and space to create. Just like with exercise, you must commit to it.
So what if you don’t have a studio or office space? what if you feel that your office is a cage that blocks your mind? Try and find a small creative corner wherever you are. When I first began my Graphic design career, I worked at my kitchen table for years. I even know a professional artist who paints in her bathroom, and she is happy! Just stay organized.
2. Change or Clean Your Environment:
If you already have a workspace, realize it is not just an office or studio – it is a creative environment. We are a product of our environment. Therefore, if your environment is dark, cluttered, dusty, cramped or messy, how can you create at your best? You cannot perform and create when you are uncomfortable and ill-at-ease.
Boost your creativity by clearing your desk; organize loose papers, books, and other materials. This goes a long way toward enhancing your creativity and efficiency.
Make sure you are happy with the colors that surround you. Research shows that color can play a major role in our overall state of well-being. The colors we surround ourselves with directly influence the way we feel, relax and create. To learn more about color, an interesting ‘must’ read: Use the Hidden Meaning of Color in Your Art.
Surround yourself with comfortable, favorite things that make you want to stay and work within your creative work environment!
3. Keep a Whiteboard or Bulletin Board:
No creative studio or office is complete without a whiteboard or bulletin board. Much like a giant sketchbook, these boards facilitate creativity and productivity. Easy to use, they provide an endless canvas for brainstorming and organizing.
Open up your imagination and visualize how you want your life to be. The more you use your imagination the more creative you will become.
4. Give Yourself a Break from Technology:
Oh no, say it ain’t so! This is a particularly important point that I need to remember and it is easier said than done now that most of us are immersed in the digital age. Recent research shows that our brains need downtime from technology! Believe it or not, listening to music, watching TV or talking on your cell phone is NOT downtime. Neither is your computer, Twitter or Facebook!
In fact, technology is known to increase levels of stress which makes it difficult to concentrate. Too much technology blocks creativity.
Downtime is important and necessary because it allows our minds to process information and remember it. When the brain was constantly stimulated, “you prevent this learning process” if your brain is constantly plugged in, assistant professor Loren Frank of the department of physiology at the University of California in San Francisco told The Times.
5. Get Back to Nature:
Getting outside and into nature is a very important part of my personal creative process and apparently, this strategy works well for many others. A recent study found that people learned significantly, retained knowledge and de-stressed better after a walk in nature than after a walk in a dense urban environment. Constantly processing a barrage of information leaves people fatigued. It is important to escape from it.
Try and set aside some time each day to ‘get back to nature’…even a walk around the block is often enough to help you unwind. If you are unable to actually get away from the chaos or city life, try spending time staring at fish swimming in a fish-tank, enjoy arranging some flowers or re-potting a plant. If you can…take a vacation!
Get in touch with the ‘child within’…allow yourself time to think, explore and wander aimlessly through a garden, on a nature walk, or even a shopping mall! Children are the best creators of all, become one again.
6. Try Something New:
If you find you are stuck-in-a-rut, it might help to try something new. Read a book on a new subject, watch an instructional DVD, take a workshop or try using a different medium to create. Also, if you paint, try writing…or…if you write, try painting! Flip through a magazine, randomly surf the Internet (once you’ve had that ‘downtime’).
Overcoming creative minds blocks is one of the reasons why I started blogging – blogging/writing is another way for me to create and express myself which always leads me to new painting ideas!
7. Be Kind to Yourself:
Again, this should be obvious! However, give yourself permission to exercise, meditate, laugh, do something enjoyable. Eat right and get plenty of sleep. Take a long, warm, relaxing bath. Just close your eyes and let the ideas begin to flow or take a power nap! And get plenty of oxygen to that overworked brain…don’t forget to b-r-e-a-t-h-e!!!
8. Listen to Music:
In my research for this post, I have learned some interesting facts about music. Music is found to affect our process of learning and thinking. Listening to pleasing music can make the task seem easier. Music can be used to stimulate and relax the body and mind. More and more businesses are using music which helps the listener think, analyze and work faster in a more efficient manner.
Music helps develop a positive attitude and provides the listener with motivation. Soothing musical notes help increase the Serotonin levels of the brain which helps to alleviate mental depression. Doctors and dentists have always known that music calms and soothes one’s nerves. But did you know that flat musical notes induce sleep, while natural notes provide the mind with alertness?
9. Create a Deadline:
Some professionals love deadlines, targets and thrive within those structured environments, while for others, a deadline seems restrictive.
To some creatives, the deadline approach might seem a bit contradictory and somewhat stressful. However, I find that a self-induced deadline is often the kick-in-the-pants my blocked creative mind needs. A deadline gets my creative juices flowing and activates my brain with new thoughts and ideas which help me reach my goal.
A target achievement seems to work really well. For example: writing a guest post for another blog (I am doing this right now!), entering an art competition, completing works for an exhibition….
10. Keep a Sketchbook or Journal:
It is a good idea to carry a small notebook and a pen or pencil around with you so you can take notes when inspiration hits. Take time to doodle and write down ideas. This helps to unlock mind blocks. A creative sketchbook or journal is a great way to track your personal progress. It also records random ideas that can be used for future inspiration.
There are many other ways to boost your creativity. The above suggestions work for me. I hope some of you will share ways to boost your creativity.
Happy Creative process!