For the past five or so months, I have been stuck in a bit of a creative rut. I haven’t had a huge desire to draw, sketch, or do anything creative. It just hasn’t been very appealing to me. So, I decided to take a step back from the craziness of everyday life and really reflect on why I have been feeling this way. This isn’t the first time I have encountered a creative block. In fact, while reflecting, I realized that I go through these phases about once a year. It hasn’t been an easy process, but I have figured out a few things about what kinds of blocks I experience and how to work toward overcoming each of them.
My three different creative blocks:
The “Everyone else is way more talented than me” block
The “I don’t feel successful doing art anymore” block
and the “I am so stressed by other things that I can’t focus” block
It’s times like these when my education in Psychology and training as a life coach really come in handy. I wanted to share the things I have learned with you In case you are encountering one of these blocks.
The “Everyone Else Is Way More Talented Than Me” Block
It is human nature to be competitive. Unfortunately, it goes further than just our need for survival. Competition shows up in several aspects of life, including the way that we compare ourselves to others. We are always wondering if other people are prettier than us or more talented than us. We can really psych ourselves out trying to feel like the best. I am incredibly guilty of this, especially when it comes to art and creativity. It’s actually very ironic since creativity is supposed to be unique and individualistic in nature. I will find myself scrolling through Instagram or waling through an art gallery thinking about how I wish I was as talented as the other artists and creatives that I see. I feel very intimidated and jealous.
I have had to learn how to step back and remember that creativity is different for each person. In fact, that is why it is so special in the first place. I try to pay attention to when I am having negative thoughts like, “I’m not talented enough” and “I won’t be able to keep up with other people”. Once I am able to catch myself thinking these things, I can replace the thoughts with positive self talk. I tell myself that I am talented and that I can do amazing things. The world needs everyone’s creativity to stay diverse and beautiful, including mine.
The “I Don’t Feel Successful Doing Art Anymore”
Like the first creative block, this one is also hugely based on social influence. The first thing that people like to ask when they meet someone is “So, what do you do?”. Uber drivers ask it, strangers in elevators ask it, old friends of my parents ask it, everyone loves to ask it. I HATE this question. It makes me feel like everyone is going to judge me based on my choice in career. I always tell people that I am a “freelance artist” which is my fancy way of saying “I create pieces of art for various people when they want them while attempting to turn yet another creative-based business ventures into a career”. It is not a steady stream of income for me yet and therefore makes me feel very unsuccessful. As you can imagine, this has a big impact on my self-confidence and totally derails any desires I could have to create more.
My way of dealing with this one is by taking a break from Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, or anywhere where I might encounter people showing off their success and fortune. I continue the positive self talk if I find myself having negative thoughts about my own success (or lack there of). Then, I sit down and just draw whatever I want to draw — not for profit or for any particular purpose other than to just create. This helps my creative juices flow again and allows me to fall in love with art all over again. Sometimes the pressure of needing to be successful or famous consumes me and blocks out the passion I had in the first place. I still hate answering the “What do you do?” question but I know that it takes time to become successful and it can take many different tries.
The “I Am So Stressed Out By Other Things That I Can’t Focus” Block
This particular creative block is the one that lasts the longest for me, usually months at a time. I will get distracted by how messy the house is, or in my most recent experience, taking care of our new puppy, that I just don’t have time to even think about art. When I do get a break from the demands of day to day life, I just find myself not even wanting to pick up a pencil or brush.
Recently, I had an epiphany. I realized why I get to this place of feeling burnt out and idealess. For anyone, if we don’t have a good balance of stressors and relaxation in our lives, we will get very exhausted and restless. I find that I want to create at times when I am most relaxed and have had time to become inspired. When I encounter these times of stress, I am not allowing myself time to relax and unwind before I try to be creative. By skipping the relaxation step and going straight to trying to make new art. I have since realized how crucial the middle step is! . It is something that needs to be done in order to allow your passions and creativity to take its full effect.
I hope that my self reflection has been able to help you overcome any mental blocks you may be facing whether it is art or any other creative field. Leave a comment with a link to your blog if you have been up to anything creative lately or feel free to share any tips you have for overcoming creative blocks.
Beautiful piece! It’s very encouraging to hear that you go through the same blocks too – we are never alone in our struggles. I’ve found that shutting down my media outlets and getting away from it for a bit can help discharge some negative energy and give me time to recharge the positive. Whenever bad thoughts jump into my head I shut them down by doing something I love or spending the day with someone that brings me joy. It’s all about training yourself to switch the negative for something postive. It’s never easy but the faster you getting out of the rut the quicker it is to bounce back.
Kelly Varner says
So true girl! So true.
I love this Kelly! You perfectly described the blocks and everything that goes with it. The emotions are so familiar and I am also guilty of all of this. I see amazing content and it just feels like mine is subpar. It takes a lot of work to turn that discouragement into motivation.
Thank you for this! I’m so guilty of comparing myself to others that I tend to get overwhelmed and get into those creative blocks. It’s the worst. But I definitely think that stepping away from social media helps tremendously.
Kathleen Varner says
Thanks for sharing. It’s so healthy to offload negativity.