How to Overcome Creative Blocks


I’m sure you can relate to this scene: You’re in a room and you hear the buzzing sound of a fly. You observe it closely as it repeatedly hits against the walls, spinning in circles, desperately trying to find an escape route. In many ways, our creativity can mirror this same struggle. We pursue it relentlessly, like the fly searching for an exit, but often find ourselves unable to break free.

Creative blocks don’t discriminate; they don’t just affect artists like painters, writers or musicians. While commonly associated with these fields, creativity is a fundamental aspect across all professions. From devising innovative solutions to flexing the creative muscle in the workplace, unlocking creativity is not confined to the realm of art. That’s why we’re here to offer you valuable tips to overcome those creative roadblocks and unleash your full imaginative potential.

How to overcome creative blocks: tips and practical activities


1. Forget about inspiration. Habit is better. A phrase we’ve borrowed from the writer Octavia Butler. She says, “Forget about inspiration: habit is better. Habit will keep you going, whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you reach the end of your novel and polish it. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in action.” Inspiration does its job and we should make the most of it when it appears, but we shouldn’t rely too heavily on it or we will become enslaved by it. This advice from the writer, rather than being a solution to creative blocks, is a preventive method. Make the creative process a habit through practice: if you’re a writer, sit down to write every day. The same applies to any field you dedicate yourself to. For example, if you work in the creative department of an advertising agency, create a daily list of ideas or engage in brainstorming. Even if you’re not initially satisfied with the result or if you think it’s not perfect.

2. Improve your inner dialogue and increase your confidence. The Molotov cocktail for tackling a creative block consists of the following ingredients: perfectionism, self-demand, doubts, insecurity, and lack of confidence. It’s like dousing something already flammable with gasoline — making a bad situation even worse. As writer Sylvia Plath once said, “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” However, as human beings, it’s natural to experience doubts and insecurity. The good news is that these can be worked on. We propose two exercises to help you.


  • Exercise 1: Write down each insecurity or harsh statement from your inner critic —don’t worry, we all have one— on a piece of paper, crumple it up and throw it away or keep it in a box. Here are some examples of inner critic statements: “I’m not good enough for this,” “Who would be interested in what I do,” “I’m an impostor.”
  • Exercise 2: Make a list of aspects about yourself, skills you have and talents you like. This exercise helps boost your confidence, which in turn allows your creativity to flow more freely. We recommend a book called “Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative” to help you with your inner critic and creativity.


3. Stay tuned to the world around you. Finding inspiration and being creative doesn’t always require grand voyages or life-changing events. Right within your day-to-day experiences, there’s a world brimming with inspiration. It’s not something distant or inaccessible — it’s all around you, waiting to be discovered. It could be a scene on a subway, an encounter with a stranger on the street, a chat with your neighbor or even observing a couple strolling by. These seemingly ordinary moments can serve as powerful catalysts — don’t underestimate their potential.

4. Play. Playing has the power to liberate your mind from a creative impasse. Neuroscience has demonstrated that when we play, we stimulate the right hemisphere of the brain, responsible for creativity, emotions, and our inner world. Furthermore, scientific research has shown that play allows us to tap into the subconscious and activate this aspect of the brain. Our suggestion is to approach play without the expectation of creating something “good” or “important” — simply embrace the spirit of play. After all, have you ever seen a child preoccupied while playing?

5. Go for a walk without a plan or destination. You’ve likely heard and even uttered the phrase, “Go out and get some fresh air.” Well, it’s actually not bad advice. Putting your body in motion kickstarts the circulation of ideas in your mind. Canadian conceptual artist Keri Smith wrote the book “The Wander Society,” in which she encourages exploring without any preconceived plans or specific goals, allowing yourself to be completely open to the unknown.

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6. Take a break from the activity. We often think that if something isn’t going well, we should keep pushing ourselves to the extreme to solve it. But sometimes, what you actually need is the opposite: to stop insisting and accept that creativity is not flowing at the moment. Give it some rest, just like the earth needs to lie fallow after a harvest. We suggest taking a few hours (or even days, if possible) to pause and engage in other activities that you enjoy and find pleasurable. Then, come back to it with a refreshed mindset and try again with greater clarity.

7. Free up mental space and resolve pending matters. There are tasks or personal situations that drain our mental energy, whether it’s because we’re procrastinating on them or because they are important matters requiring attention. A worried or anxious mind is hardly conducive to creativity. That’s why we recommend reviewing if there’s anything you need to resolve, address, or close off before diving into the creative process.

8. Take care of your basic needs. Eat well, sleep well and keep your space organized. Often, in our desperate attempt to regain our creativity, we forget to take care of ourselves. Mike Brown, a creativity and innovation expert and founder of The Brainzooming Group, believes that it’s essential to “take care of the basic needs of life and then resume your creative efforts.”

9. Seek feedback from people in your environment. Share the situation that’s causing your creative block with a trusted person in your circle. Listen to their opinions and the alternatives and solutions they suggest. This will help you break free from tunnel vision and gain different perspectives that can provide you with more clarity.

10. Surround yourself with creative individuals and engage in activities together. In other words, feed off each other’s inspiration and creativity. Being surrounded by people who are in a similar situation will help you feel that you’re not alone in this journey — and you can also share your ideas, make suggestions to each other, exchange places or situations that inspire you, and discover new areas of opportunity together.

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