If you’re feeling all-over-the-place from a creative energy standpoint, there’s one key question to start with:
“When was the last time I took a break?”
While not all of us are in a season where extended rest is possible, my creative blocks are always most aggressive when my self care is in the trash can.
First Things First — The Basics
So first: eat. Sleep. Come back when you feel a bit better physically.
Then, consider: where and why are you putting too much pressure on yourself?
Problems of creativity, much like problems of the digestive system, are rarely solved by pushing harder*.*
Decide: what’s most important at this stage?
Are you just trying to make any progress at all? (If yes, break off a smaller chunk.)
Does it actually need to be perfect right now now now?
You May Be Working TOO Hard
Is there a place you’ve “overworked” the idea a little too much? What if you gave yourself a clean slate?
Anyone who’s worked with oil paints knows the feeling of having layered TOO MANY COLORS into a portion of the canvas that’s been giving you trouble.
It gets muddy and gray, and no new paint will stick until you either give it time to dry (which sometimes takes days), or start over.
This can happen in every creative medium. So try axing that overworked section out temporarily. See if it liberates you.
Make Sure the Proverbial Cook Belongs in Your Kitchen
You might just have a “too many cooks” problem.
Nobody muddies the water faster than a well-meaning person who doesn’t truly get it offering “constructive criticism”.
Because that response can cause you to move onto the next person. And the next. Until you’re not sure how much of the work is still yours… and how much is feedback you’ve applied without thinking deeply.
When in doubt, reference your initial attempts for anything worth rescuing.
On the Other Hand…
Accept that, somewhat paradoxically, it might be TIME for feedback (from folks who get it).
Have you been guarding your creative work like a jealous dragon? Are you refusing to let anyone you trust look at it until it feels ready enough?
If you’ve been stuck for a while, or are unclear on what to tackle next?
Now may be the time to get an outside perspective on what’s really going on — by specifically asking for what you need from the feedback.
Finally, Seek Out Inspiration for Its Own Sake
Remember: creativity begets creativity.
If you’re banging your head against the wall with something you’re working on… stop that for a little bit. (Also: ow.)
Go appreciate someone else’s creativity for a while. Read or watch or listen to something new, or go stand stock still in front of a giant painting like you’re in a Wes Anderson film. Do whatever you gotta do.
Your creative mind might just pick up on something your conscious mind can’t. And all of a sudden – that missing piece might just click into place.