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?

What to Do When Creative Block Happens

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!

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9 thoughts on “How to Conquer Creative Block (and smash it to bits!)”

  1. Yes, I feel this SO MUCH when it comes to drawing. A few years ago I used to have all the time in the world to draw and I was slowly improving. But then life happened, I have new responsibilities and all my free time is spent on writing. I still love drawing, I’ve basically been doing it as long as I have writing, but my skill has gone waaaay down since I’ve been so out of practice, and it puts a huge damper on things every time I want to start something new. I still haven’t gotten over this slump yet, but your post is super motivating!!

  2. Omg, yes!! I can relate so much to the problem of never finishing anything creative I start. It drives me absolutely nuts, too. I’ll devote so much time and research and creating into a project and then POOF! Onto the next thing. Scrap it and start something new. I’ve done it countless times over the years and it is beyond frustrating.
    That video “Finished Not Perfect” really breaks it down nicely. It’s so true.
    I love how proactive you are in coming up with little ways to change the routine and push yourself toward finishing things. It’s all solid advice and I’m definitely going to keep it in mind. 🙂
    One of my biggest hurdles has been that I bore of things I was really excited about previously while working on them, and that’s why I wind up bouncing from project to project. I recently read something about how it only seems boring to you when you’ve been working on it because you have been looking at the same thing OVER and OVER and going through and revising the same thing this whole time. But if you were to only finish it and let someone else look at it, it would be new and exciting to them. It was such a simple, but good point to remember and I think it has been helping to keep me more motivated. I still feel that compulsive itch to work on something different, but I fight it more now because I want to see what I can do if I finish something.

  3. This is such a great post & especially apt to me right now as I’m doing NaNoWriMo. If I’m being honest: I don’t get as many creative blocks as I used to, and when I do, I’m able to fight my way out of them a lot easier than before. I’m not sure what changed, honestly, but I think my attitude/mental outlook on whatever I was doing helped. I’m a HUGE perfectionist so letting go & accepting that what I’m working on will NOT be perfect first draft helps. I love the idea of taking a break as well—sometimes it’s helpful for me to move to another creative outlet if I’m struggling. So, if I’m stuck with a novel WIP, I’ll take a day or two’s break and focus on photography instead, for example.

  4. We can do it 😀 Thanks for the video recs, I’ll definitely check them out! Sometimes it’s just nice to know we’re not alone 🙂

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