How to Tackle Creative Block and Stay Motivated
Tips on Staying Motivated for Creatives
Creative block is something that, as a creative, a creator or just generally, most people experience at some point in their life. When creating is your job and it’s what put’s food on the table, it can become quite the vicious cycle. You need to create, but forcing it or over-exercising your creative muscle can easily lead to burnout, which flattens your motivation and creativity without, of course, flattening the necessity for you to create.
At times like this, I think it’s easy to fall out of routine and stop practicing self-care tips, which is likely to lead to a higher percentage of people burning out and losing motivation. These tips can be utilised in isolation and outside of isolation due, and could even apply to motivation outside of the creative sense.
Digest Creative Material
Digesting creative material, such as books, films and music, can be a great way to re-inspire and re-motivate you. I personally believe that, as a creative, digesting material is something that you never stop. The world is constantly changing and people’s creative response to that is, in turn, also constantly changing.
The material that you digest doesn’t necessarily have to be considering creative, either. Whilst I love to read photo books, photography magazines and design related content, I think that reading other content is equally as important, and as motivated. Some of my favourite books, such as Shoe Dog or Good Life, Good Vibes, have nothing to do with art or creativity but have motivated me as much, or more, than consuming visual material.
I often find, as a photographer and designer, that I’m particularly inspired by films. Good films. There are a breadth of short, and feature-length, films that might not have crossed your radar available to watch on the web - from YouTube to Vimeo - and re-inspiring yourself with a visual masterpiece or a good narrative could be what you need.
Attending events and talks can also be a way to motivate yourself. Sometimes it takes listening to someone else’s journey and how they navigated obstacles to inspire you to do the same.
Switch Up Your Workspace
The effect your workspace, and your routine, can have on your productivity and motivation is apparent. When you’re sat at the sofa, are you generally as motivated as if you’re sat at your desk? I find that switching up my workspace often can have a profound effect on my motivation. I regularly cycle between working at coffee shops, co-working spaces and home. I know that this isn’t necessarily easy during isolation, but it’s something that you can almost definitely do post-pandemic. Small businesses and local coffee shops will need your support then more than ever.
The 2 Minute Rule
The 2 Minute rule is more of a productivity hack than anything, but I find that implementing it can also have an effect on my motivation. Essentially, the rule entails doing any and all tasks on your to-do list straight away that take less than two minutes to complete. For example, responding to an email you’ve been putting of or even taking the bins out. The sense of achievement of being able to tick even one thing off of your list, no matter how small, can often feel motivating.
Referring back to burn-out, it’s very easy for us to get stuck in a rut and get tired of what we’re doing or making. Taking a break is important to your health and mental wellbeing. Without breaks, a burn-out becomes more likely. I know that in this day and age there’s a need to feel constantly productive, but looking after yourself and your health is arguably the most productive thing that you can do if you’re looking for longevity in your career.
Tidy space, tidy mind. Tidying your workspace could be the boost you need to regain mental clarity and re-motivate yourself to get back in the game.
Do Something Else Creative
I find that a good way to get out of my creative ruts is to do something else creative that is distanced from what you’re struggling with. For me, I like to take it back to basics and draw or write - which were arguably my first creative loves that I don’t often have the time to do.
Getting outside, even if just for some vitamin D and fresh air, can be a great way to recharge. I like to go for walks or runs to recharge and look after my mind but there’s really no pressure to do anything at all - you could just sit in the sun with your lunch, for example. Think of it as a type of mindfulness.
Reminding yourself why you started something is always a great way to re-motivate yourself. The chances are, you didn’t get into a creative line of work for the money. I like to remind myself why I’m working the way I am on what I’m doing, and what I’m personally getting out of this career path.
I like to set goals. Not only is it great to have something to work towards, it can be equally as motivating to look back and see how far you’ve come. My list of goals are usually separated into “types”: life, career and more meaningless goals such as statistic milestones, that don’t bring anything to my self-development other than a sense of achievement.
Partaking in passion projects can be a great way to reignite your love for your creative field. Too often, we get swept up in the commercial work that we’re doing and forget to take the time to do the work we want to - the type of work that really sorts that creative itch.
These tips are just a few that I find useful - of course, there are many other ways to motivate yourself. You can check the full-length video out below, and I’d recommend leaving your suggestions on how you motivate yourself in the comments (or just reading the ones that other people have submitted)!