Something that has been bothering me lately is how I never seem to finish anything. And I mean anything creative.
Like I would have this awesome idea for an illustration or a blog post bubbling in my head and I just know it would be so fun to create or write and gahhh it’s so good where’s my pen gimme paper and then—
Whoosh. It’s gone. And it’s messing. Me. UP.
Do you ever have that happen? Like one minute you have this cool idea of a blog post or a novel or a drawing or something and it’s extremely exciting. But before you can even act on it, it just dissipated into thin air?
It is completely frustrating. And I’ve been struggling with it for some time. So I thought I’d do a bit of reflection on how I got through my previous creative blocks (because this is obviously not the first time I experienced a creative block.)
I listed them down below for all of the precious creative corn cobs who is or has suffered from creative block like yours truly 😉
Let’s battle these horrible blocks together, yeah?
Remember “Finished, Not Perfect”
See, perfectionism can be that grumpy old troll blocking your path. As a creative, I easily get sucked into this whirlpool mentality that what I do, I should be doing perfectly. What happens is that I focus on perfection more and end up with these perfect yet unfinished works. And let’s be real here, those don’t really give that same amount of satisfaction as finished works do.
The creator of the famous Inktober Challenge, Jake Parker has this short video where he gave this really good point about how a year from now, you’d think you could’ve done better.
So why fuss about it so much now, when you know you’re gonna be better at it in the future?
Now, whenever I’m writing a blog post or creating an illustration, I make it a point to just focus on finishing it. Sometimes it comes easy, like being at the moment of drawing something. And sometimes overthinking starts to nudge me on the side and I’ll have to force myself to get back to doing what I’m doing.
During those times, I remember that my goal at that moment is “finished, not perfect.” You can watch Jake Parker’s video below:
Create a Mental Accountability Exercise
Whenever I read articles on how to be productive when you’re unmotivated or something similar, one tip they always throw out is to keep distractions away from you.
This doesn’t work for me.
I grew up having to think of things to keep myself occupied without any help from the adults. And while that’s a good thing for my creativity, it does have some negative side: I am always distracted.
Like I would try to keep my phone away from me when I work but then ooh! There’s that book my sister bought last week, let’s read the blurb! Or I would study somewhere in our campus with few people hanging around but gosh, look at those rooftops outside, what color are those?
See what I mean?
So instead of keeping them away, I have to build on my inner focus more. Which is why I’m trying to create this habit of having a regular mental accountability exercise. Like every hour or so I’d think, “Okay, Kate. How are you? And how have you been doing this-and-that so far? What’s your progress? What are you finding difficulty on?”
It’s like I’m being the supervisor of my own self, weirdly funny as that sounds. I haven’t built this habit firmly yet but the times when I do completely immerse myself in the exercise I finish more work and I feel I enjoyed doing them more.
Change Things Up
I don’t know why. But when you’re doing routine work in a different way, it’s refreshing. It’s like a breath of fresh air.
I’ve been struggling with finishing blog posts lately, which is why I’ve been having these short impromptu blogging breaks the past few months. I just can’t seem to write well in my laptop for some reason.
So I decided I’d write the first draft of this post on my tablet and then edit on my laptop. And ohmybuttertoast, it worked! It freaking worked you guys! My train of thought went more smoothly than when I’m typing on my laptop. And it felt weird. Weirdly good. It felt like it’s been a long time since I wrote something and finished it.
Of course, I had to add in some stuff while I edited the draft on my laptop. But the point here is: by changing just one small detail in my routine, I actually worked better.
Take a Break from What You’re Doing
I honestly can’t stress this point enough. I even made a separate post before on the importance of taking a break. Breaks are important and we’re usually in this hustle mindset that we forget to sit back and catch a breather. Heck even I do.
Last month, I made the decision of stepping away from my Wednesday-and-Saturday blogging schedule because it’s just not doing any good for me recently. I needed a fresh perspective and a new routine.
October gave me that opportunity with Inktober. There were times when I had to do a bit of catch up but I enjoyed Inktober! And it has opened new creative, artsy doors that were totally refreshing.
(Also PS, if you haven’t read it yet, I’ve written a whole post on my first Inktober and what I’ve taken away from that experience)
And I know this contradicts that first part about finishing your work. But you know what? Why not try both?
I’ve been in a time when I thought, “Crap crap crap this looks awful, this really looks awful” but continued doing it anyway and finished it and freakin’ loved how it looked. And I’ve also been in a time when I simply turned the page of my sketchbook and told myself, “I’ll go back to that later. Maybe it won’t look as awful by then.” On both times, things worked out alright.
A few more ideas
I love reading blog posts or listening to podcasts on creativity and ideas. So here are some other bloggers’ take on creative blocks and, in general, capturing the ever fleeting and slippery ghouls called ideas.
May of Forever and Everly shared a simple yet very crucial tip we sometimes forget when blogging: when you have great blog post ideas, freaking write. Them. Down. (Also, her post is all about blogging pet peeves which is totally hilarious so go check it out after you’ve written that idea down, okay?)
In this post on organizing your blogging life, Ilsa of A Whisper of Ink gave me the most amazing idea for saving ideas (so meta I know) BOOKMARKS! Why haven’t I thought of that before???
The lovely blogger from Thoughts from ’94 wrote this post on writer’s block. I especially loved how she said blogging is not always about the writing but also experiencing things because YAS GURL I TOTALLY AGREE.
Y’all also check out where Lauren of Loulabellerose find blogging inspiration. I love how she added “Myself” there and it reminded me of an episode from The Magic Lessons podcast where Liz Gilbert and her guest of the episode talked about how wonderful it is to find inspiration from yourself.
Check out these girls’ lovely blogs, yo! They’re really amazing 😉
See, there are so many ways that you can go about conquering creative block. That’s the great thing about dealing with problems on creativity.
There is no perfect solution. There are hundreds of ways that you can navigate to. And you can try one or three or all hundreds of them and learn which one works for you and which doesn’t 🙂
YOUR TURN: Have you experienced creative block? How did you deal with it? Share your wisdom in the comments!