5 Tips to Get Past Artist’s Block

Posted by Don Elliott on Aug 3, 2018 8:11:12 AM

struggling artist

“There is never a lack of subject matter; just absence of creativity.” – Lee Hammond, ArtistsNetwork.com

Maybe you’ve never heard the term Artist’s Block, but I bet you get what it means. Yes, just like writers get writer’s block, artists experience that same creative traffic jam. Ideally, we creatives would have all the time in the world to spring into action only when inspiration hits us, but deadlines are real, and they don’t consider your level of inspiration or lack thereof.

So, the deadline isn’t going to go away. What do you do? Everyone develops their methods and sources of inspiration, but here are a few tips I find helpful.

See What Others Are Doing

There are tons of resources out there, and they by no means have to be related to your industry. Nothing obscure here, but here are a few of my favorites:

Each one has some form of filtering if you’re looking to narrow down what you’re looking for.

Soundtrack It

Sometimes the creative juices can’t flow because of the noise (or the lack thereof). Bust out the headphones and get things moving in a different direction! Different types of work may need different playlists. For example, when I’m deep into code (well, as deep as I get at least), I need something loud and obnoxious but light on the words. I’ve got just the playlist for that! If I’m working on something that is light on brain power and is more repetitious, my mind tends to get bored and starts to drift…one of my favorite things to do is play some YouTube Russian roulette! I try to find something that I can simply listen to like a Ted Talk or a documentary of some sort where I don’t need to watch it. I can just minimize it and go about my business. Obviously, not every office is going to allow this, but it's allowed here at Tribute Media because we’re cool like that.

Find Your Routine- Find Your Most Productive Times

I’m positive I’m a morning man. I get more done between 8 am to Noon than I do from Noon to 5 pm. I also have a second wind that lasts about an hour or two at night once the house is quiet and I’m settling in. Knowing this, I try to organize the types of work I do to maximize that. Heavy thinking is reserved for the morning, routine stuff is reserved for the afternoon, and a little personal learning at night! If you can shuffle things around to find those peak times of productivity, I promise you’re going to get more done.

Get Out!

I know it seems counterproductive when you’ve got a big deadline looming, but sometimes you’re making things worse by trying to power through. I’ve found that I can actually save myself time by just getting up and walking away for a bit. Weather permitting, I generally take a couple of short walks a day to clear my head, give my eyes some time to adjust and let my brain loose for a while!

Dare I Say It: Decaffeinate

I know, how dare I make such a suggestion? Again, to each his/her own but I’ve found that when I’m overly caffeinated, I’m only artificially awake and alert. I experience far more brain fog and just an overall spongy, cloudy feeling when I’m relying on coffee or energy drinks to keep me going. It hurts a bit changing this habit, but less caffeine and more water may be worth a try! The benefit for me has been a sharper, clearer mind and better focus and that is worth a lot. Bonus if you can add better sleeping and eating habits!

Bottom line- pay attention to yourself and figure out what gets those creative juices flowing. Try different things (as long as they're legal) and see how you react!

Don Elliott

Written by Don Elliott

Don holds a degree in Multimedia and Web Design from the Art Institute of Seattle and has worked in web design for nearly two decades. He is also an award-winning illustrator.

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