Facing a Creative Block

Creative blocks happen. When I hit one this past week, Facebook strangers helped me to break through and get the creativity flowing again. I pass along their wisdom to you. When you face a creative block, ask yourself these 6 questions to move past it.

Alright I’m gonna be honest…I started strong and inspired with #the100DayProject this year, but I hit a wall. Life happened and I missed a day, then another. Just as I was feeling discouraged and rather disappointed in myself, I saw a Facebook post that helped me over the hump. I share it in the hopes it might help you overcome any creative blocks you are facing.

The block begins

A fellow member of #the100DayProject Facebook group echoed my feelings pretty well. “Anyone else feel like giving up? This daily thing has become more of an annoyance than something to be enjoyed this past week for me. Then there’s the realization we’re not even halfway there. What keeps you going when you just want to walk away completely?”

The comments poured in. 103 comments later, I felt prepared to get back in the game. I even started to get excited and inspired again. Whether you are working on #the100dayproject or not, the advice can apply. Here’s the gist of the good advice doled out:

What caused the block?

When you hit a creative block, try to figure out why or what caused it.

I’m pretty sure the root of my block is one bad piece. I have one postcard (out of the 40 I’ve done) that I dislike. Once I made it, I began to lack motivation. Some people were feeling unworthy as they compared themselves to others. Other people were feeling discouraged with the lack of feedback, likes, and comments on social media.

What caused your block? Knowing can help you push past it.

Why did you start?

“Sit back and have a think to remind yourself of what you wanted to achieve from this project and take a look at your progression thus far. I bet you’ll be surprised by seeing your progress,” said one commenter. In a similar vein, another commenter said, “Go back to your intention for doing this. Sit quietly with your reason “why” and write what comes up. There may be answers there or a fresh perspective. Don’t make this a “have to.” Relax.”

This got me thinking. Why did I start this project in the first place? Two reasons — I felt very accomplished last year when I did it and I want a more cohesive product this year. Do I still want this? Yes.

Why did you start whatever you’re blocked from? Do you still want it?

How will you feel?

“I’ve hit a similar place, and what occurs to me right now is I can give myself permission to quit, but when I think about looking back on it, I’d rather be celebrating that I did it, than sad I didn’t!” said a wise Facebook stranger.

Hmmm. Good point. I agree that in the end, I’ll be proud of myself for completing this project and I’ll be disappointed in myself if I give up. It’s quite an accomplishment to show up and create something 100 times. I was quite proud last year and I like my project more this year, so what will I feel like this time around? There’s only one way to find out.

How will you feel if you quit? How will you feel if you complete the project?

What might happen if…?

“Push through. it’s a cyclic thing, ” said one. Another person added, “This sense of frustration usually heralds a shift or breakthrough for me in my work. Stick with it. Go gently on yourself.”

It makes sense that on a creative journey, there will be ups and downs. When at a low, push through to get back to a high. What happens next could very well be a breakthrough. When your creativity seems used up, but you push further, innovation happens. That’s when an artist’s style develops, when real creativity appears. What might happen if you push through?

This is when the project really starts – when you get bored, when you run out of ideas, when you have no idea how to continue – what do you do then? How do you show up for the things that really matter to you?” 

Elle Luna

Why are you feeling badly about it?

“I don’t create daily but I don’t beat myself up over it,” mentioned another commenter.

Ah, yes. This is just my cruel inner critic striking again, isn’t it? What does it matter if I missed a day or ten? Last year I ended in August and still felt great. Should I allow missing some days prevent me from that same sense of accomplishment? Did I start this thinking that I could only succeed if I finished on a specific day? No. I don’t even know what day it’s supposed to end!

Why are you feeling badly about this block? Be kind and gentle and forgiving with yourself.

What would make it better?

Yet another wise Facebooker pointed out, “I felt this last year – that it became a chore instead of a “want to.” Feel free to change it up, try something new, or even take a day off.”

Good point. If it’s not working out, make a change. How can I make this enjoyable and exciting again? What am I not liking and what would make me like it? I think I’m going to stop being so stringent with myself. Up to this point, I have only used collage papers for all the postcards. I think turning them into mixed media pieces that involve collage would open me up to more possibilities. You know what? If I don’t like it, I give myself permission to change it again.

How can you change your piece to make it feel inspiring again?

Remember the Rules

The only rule in art and in #the100dayproject is, “There are no rules.” If you remember that, you should be able to either get back on track or accept the fact that you don’t want to. It’s all good.

As for me, I’m back in the game.

Post Category: Inspiration, The 100 Day Project
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9 Comments. Leave new

  • Thank you for this. No I’m not doing the 100 day project this year but who knows. This is good for any creative project though. Those cruel inner critics sure are cruel. Wonder what they look like. Are they always the same or do they take the form of a mother, father, teacher, etc? There is a lot to think about here. Again, thank you.

    Reply
  • My mood influences my creativity x10000… I have stopped the 100 day project for three weeks now but want to go back to it. Can I still consider it to be this project after such a long pause in between? I want to say yes.
    When I am facing a creative block, the only way is to just go in my Studio without any expectation and do something. Whatever, really, but something.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth Hawks
      May 26, 2019 3:29 am

      That reminds me of a podcast I listened to recently. The speaker said she forces herself to just start for one minute and then allow herself to stop if she really wants to. She says only once has she actually stopped. The other 99% of the time, she keeps going.

      Reply
  • Thank you for this. I’m not doing the 100 day project but admire those who are and the work they’re creating. A wonderful idea and these thoughts are encouraging…especially as I procrastinate on writing as I write this! I’m glad you’re back continuing with the project!

    Reply
  • Great tips!! I started out doing quotes on index cards and coloring on them with oil pastels. And felt like that wasn’t really working for me at the time. I couldn’t decide what else to do. Then I realized I was blogging daily and after Effy’s blog along decided to keep going and turn that into my 100 days thing. I’ve never blogged for more than 30 days straight when Effy does the blog along so I thought it would be a good challenge to keep it going.

    Reply
  • […] When you start, you’re excited and energized. You post and produce like crazy. Trust me that it will wear off. You might get bored doing the same repetitive process — that’s when you need to push through. That’s when your creativity must fill in the gaps and you might have a wonderfully unexpected turn or outcome. You might start to get overwhelmed because — well — life happens. Don’t give up on yourself. Keep your eye on your goal and know that you will feel satisfied and accomplished if you see it through. For more tips on pushing through, check out my post on Facing a Creative Block. […]

    Reply
  • […] over and read my previous post on how to overcome creative blocks for some more solid tips and […]

    Reply

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