Creative block happens to everyone whether you’re a writer, programmer, salesman or builder. I’ve found the best way to overcome creative block is to do something else creative that’s totally different than the thing you were originally trying to do.
For example, if you’re stuck trying to write a chapter for a book, leave it and go sketch a landscape. On the other hand, if you can’t think of anything to draw or paint, go play the guitar, write a nonsense poem or try your hand at flower photography.
When you have creative block the problem is usually that you’re thinking too hard. You’ve allowed the “rules” of your art to put up a barrier to the creative freedom that you need to be able to come up with new ideas or develop existing ones. The exercises above give your brain permission to play and not be inhibited by the arbitrary rules it has placed on your original task.
When you go do your alternative artistic task, tell yourself that there are no rules. It doesn’t have to be good, presentable or even sensible. It just has to be you creating something new.
I find my original task is much easier to get started on after doing something different for a while. It’s amazing how quickly your mind can be convinced to abandon rules and embrace creative freedom.
A few days ago I couldn’t get very far past just staring at the wall. I decided to get out my sketch book and draw something. Instead of starting with an idea of what I wanted to draw, I closed my eyes and just drew a squiggly line on the page. Then I started using the random shapes I’d created to sketch out whatever came to mind. I just kept adding to it until I decided to end it. Doing this opened me up to making other drawings and to doing some writing that I had been putting off.
So next time you find yourself stuck for ideas or otherwise unable to do the task at hand, remember to pivot over to another task that you’re not so intent on. Loosen up your brain and you’ll be able to tackle any project.