BY KATIE SHANTZ
I’m not sure if it’s the never-ending winter or the finish line of graduation on the horizon, but I’ve found myself to be quite stuck in my creative practice for the last month. Creative block is nothing new, and I think the first step in dealing with it is to realize how common it is. It’s easy to look around and see other creatives in their zone, pumping out project after project, and compare yourself to that, but everyone gets stuck sometimes. Creative block is just part of the creative process. Unfortunately, in school, we don’t always have time for creative blocks. With constant due dates and no breaks in between, we’re forced to keep creating no matter how much our brains revolt. This being said here are my not-so-guaranteed ways to get yourself out of a creative rut, maybe.
1) Just Do It
I’m going to start with probably the most difficult approach to break your creative block. When you are in a rut the last thing you want to do is create, believe me, I know, but with deadlines sometimes you have no choice but to just do it. Just pick up that pen, paintbrush, laptop, hammer, or whatever it is and just do it. Is it going to be fun? Probably not. Is it going to be your best work? Absolutely not, but sometimes it’s okay to just get things done and turned in. Just getting through a project, even if it’s just by the skin of your teeth, can be just what you need to get you back into the groove.
2) Change of Scenery
Like I said, “just doing it” is difficult and sometimes you need a little help getting that initial motivation. I don’t know about you guys, but when I don’t want to create the last place I want to be is my studio. When you’re in a creative block it’s almost like your creative space is too. That’s why changing up where you work can help to clear your mind and give you a different perspective on your work. Go to a coffee shop, find a bench outside, work in your bed or at your kitchen table, anywhere but your typical creative space. Plus you never know how your work will change when you have to adjust to a different setting!
3) Switch it Up
Similar to changing your workspace, sometimes changing the mediums with which you work can be incredibly helpful to get your creative juices flowing. If you normally write poetry, try a short story. If you normally paint, try sculpture. If you normally draw, try writing and vice versa. In addition to switching up your mediums, I think creating in a reflective manner with those new mediums is also a useful tool. Responding to your work whether it be through reflective drawings, photos, or writings helps to give you a fresh perspective on things.
4) Talk it Out
One of the reasons I love being an artist is because of the community. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others in such a creative field, but you’ve got to remember you’re all in the same boat and more often than not if you’re in a rut, so are others. Having people to share your frustrations and struggles with is so incredibly therapeutic and is not only good for yourself but your work too. Ask a friend to read your essay or to look at your drawings. Asking for advice doesn’t mean you have to take it, it just gives you an outside perspective. Especially when you’ve been stuck on one project for so long, it’s nice to have a fresh pair of eyes look over your work.
5) Look After Yourself
Last, and certainly not least, take care of yourself. If you can afford it, take a break. Work on some other homework or don’t work at all! Curl up in bed, take a nap, watch a movie, and eat a good meal. When we’re in a creative block our bodies are tired and while sometimes you just have to push through, it’s not healthy to “just do it” forever. I know school can be overwhelming and feel as though there’s no time to rest, but remember that a grade doesn’t determine your worth. Listen to your body and take a break, even if it’s only for a little while.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Katie. I’m a studio art major, so it was a no brainer to join the Opus team. I enjoy looking at and discussing all mediums of art, but when I create it’s usually drawing, painting, or sculpture. I love creating and I love meeting other creatives. I think that’s one of the best parts of going into a creative field, the sense of community. We’re all just artists trying to get through this together. Cheers.