15 Things To Do When You Feel Stuck Creatively

#1. Be still.

  1. Be still. Don’t do anything. There’s no “effective” way to do art – just as there are no rectangular circles. Sometimes, to achieve important goals, you need first to enter a state of doing-nothingness. (I wrote about it yesterday here.)

  2. Write morning pages. It’s a 15-min habit of writing three pages of longhand stream-of-consciousness writing. It doesn’t have to be anything coherent. If you don’t know what to write about, write, “I don’t know what to write about.” After 30 days, this tiny routine will make you feel confident that no matter the circumstances, you can always produce three pages of writing.

  3. Read. And then create to disagree. Or agree and expand on the ideas.

  4. Get angry. Some of the best writing I did was when I got angry about something and wrote to correct the unfairness of the world.

  5. Travel. Even if it’s to the nearby park. Personally, nothing helps me get new perspectives and ideas better than traveling, especially abroad. New things inspire. New environments nourish.

  6. Get comfortable. Make yourself a coffee, sit comfortably, and get a better pen and paper. Nurture your inner artist child.

  7. Laugh a little. Or a lot. Relax. As John Cleese said, creativity is the process of having a mind in the “open mode.” Nothing brings you to the open mode faster than humor. (I highly recommend old Mr. Bean or Monty Python sketches, but that’s me.)

  8. Play. A sure way to get blocked over and over is to treat your creative work as work. Think of it as play. Try things. Ask, “What would happen if I did X…” And then just try it for the sake of it.

  9. Have a Saturday. Change the name of every day in your head to Saturday. Live like it’s Saturday. Act like it’s Saturday. (Even if it’s a Tuesday.)

  10. Don’t binge. The “easy” way out of being blocked is to drink, binge-eat, or binge-watch Netflix. Know that it’s an option, but not the way. It will send you straight back to fear, and it’ll be harder to start later.

  11. Forgive yourself. It’s OK to feel blocked. Creative work is hard. That’s why so few people are successful at it. But no matter what’s happening, tomorrow is another day.

  12. Get rid of distractions, including other creatives. If you write on Medium, don’t read other writers on Medium. They will only make you feel insecure and jealous.

  13. Use jealousy as a map. But if you are jealous, maybe it’s a sign you want the same things. Again, don’t blame yourself, but use jealousy as a map to know what you really want. Who are you jealous of and why? List 3 names and three why’s.

  14. Ask yourself, “What do I really want to say to the world today?”. Or, “What can’t the world miss?” Then do that.

  15. Finally, realize that there’s nothing you should be doing. Creativity is not something you can put on a schedule and optimize. (Although I highly recommend you try to make it a part of your everyday routine.) Give yourself a break. Maybe you don’t need to be creating right now. Maybe you need a pause to absorb new things. Focus on the long-term perspective: if your creative work is something you want to be doing all your life, what difference does one bad day/week/month make? None.

Now go do something meaningful.

– Sergey


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