There are times when I walk into my studio, only to be consumed by creativity-blocking anxiety. That's usually when I have too much going on in my head. And the more I have going on in my head, the worse it gets. The worse it gets, the more I add to the mental block.
It's times like these that I need to break the chain of negative thinking, and break through. I know that many artists experience this on occasion, and so I thought I would compile a list of tips to break out of that pattern, to become productive again.
- Eliminate distractions. This is the number 1 reason that I get "blocked". Try to wrap up any loose ends that will otherwise keep nagging at you, and serve as distractions. If you're hungry, eat. If you need to call your mum, call her. If you need to check the mail, go and check it. Budget your time so that these things don't consume your day. Allocate a schedule to doing all this stuff, and stick to it.
- Go for a walk. Sometimes, removing myself from my studio helps me.
- Breathe. This may seem simple and obvious, but I find that focusing on my breathing helps to set the right mood and mindset. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, and then exhale, blowing the air out your mouth. Pause. And then repeat this a few times.
- Rituals. It's important to have rituals, to set the scene, so that we can simply focus on what we want to create. Maybe it's brewing a cup of coffee, arranging my paints and brushes, and turning on the music. I need to make my creative surroundings just right.
- Try something new. New materials, or even old materials that I don't often use.
- It doesn't matter. Don't worry about the final outcome of what you are working on.
- Sing and dance! Yes, that's right, I often sing and dance in my studio. It helps me to get "in the mood", and loosen up.
- Be creatively wreckless. Just go ahead and paint or make whatever comes into your mind. This ties into point number 5 (it doesn't matter).
- Creative warm-up exercise. Yup, it's just like being back in school again: try some gesture drawing on paper. If you don't have a person you can draw, then draw something else. But be quick about it. The goal of this exercise is simply exercise the creative muscle memory, to get it moving.
- Tackle low-hanging fruit first. Once you've tried worked on a series of the above actions, then tackle your work by starting with the easiest parts first. For example, if you know of a quick fix for a painting, then apply it right away. Then do the next easiest thing, and the next.
Most of all, be kind to yourself. Recognize that there will be days that creativity will flow more easily than others.