Mental draino: Dealing with creative blockMikey 9 comments
If you're in a job or position where you are required to be creative, blocks can come at the most inopportune of times. When I say 'block' I am of course referring to writer's block, designer's block and so forth. As I write for a hobby and design for a living, I 'suffer' from these blocks quite regularly.
As any artist will tell you, being creative on demand is almost impossible. To demonstrate a couple of cases in point, working in the web development arm of a large company we, like our competitors, need to conform to a strict time scope in order to not blow the schedule and budget. This is essentially asking to put a time frame on creativity.
Another case is I often schedule some time to sit down and start blogging only to find I have nothing, which is ironically what spawned this article.
Instead of trying to find the root cause of these psychological stumbling blocks (lets face it, there are too many), I am going to share my suggestions for dealing with them.
Get up and do something else. If you have to force yourself to get creative and write, design or whatever, then it probably isn't going to happen. Go and do something else until you feel compelled to try again. You will know when that is.
This is something every creative person needs to do regularly. See what else is going on in your industry.
Remember that stuff we used to use called 'pen and paper'? They are still amazingly useful for rough drafts and sketching out ideas. Do this in an environment that is likely to harbour creativity. Sitting in front of the television is probably not the best place. Sit down on a park bench and let the world passing by be your source.
Set a goal
Decide early on if this is something you really want to write about and if so, what is your intended reaction? Visualising the goal can help you reverse engineer an article you're yet to write.
Get a discussion going on your subject. Listening to other ideas and solutions can be the solvent that removes your block.
When the creative flow starts to weaken, or to put it another way, when the block starts to slowly re-appear, put your work away and come back to it later. I have often produced my best work after letting an incomplete design perculate over night.
Set aside 'me' time
One of my main causes of creative block is the sudden interjection by one of my daughters. If my attention is on her for too long I loose my creative flow and find it hard to pick it up again. Setting aside 'me' time often means letting the creative process only happen when there is minimal chance of interruption - like when the kids are in bed, or when the wife is busy.
Don't over-think every detail
If I had a dollar for every time I re-read my article or revisited a design and exclaimed "WTF was I thinking?", well I would be about 768 dollars richer. Some of my best work has been the result of being rough and adding polish later.