It’s an unfortunate fact: Artist’s block happens to every creative type from time to time. It turns the normally joyful act of creating art into an uphill battle and makes you feel like you’ve lost your mojo. In short, artist’s block is basically a big bummer.
Happily, there are some tried and true ways to knock yourself out of an artistic rut.
Try one (or more!) of these 10 methods when you’re experiencing artist’s block and see for yourself how quickly you can get back to feeling creative and good about making art.
1. Give yourself a (short) break.
If rained torrentially on the day you planned an outdoor picnic, chances are you’d postpone until another day and cozy up on the sofa with Netflix instead. What I’m getting at here is that sometimes, you can’t force things, even when you might want to.
If you’re experiencing an artist block, then give yourself permission to take a little time off. Choose a finite amount of time — a few hours or even several days. This time can help you come back to your art with a fresh perspective.
Be sure that the break is short, though: A break is one thing, and it can be an important step to clearing your artist’s block. However, art can be like a muscle, and without use, it can begin to diminish in your life.
2. Make art part of your to-do list.
As previously noted, art becomes easier to do the more you create. By making art a daily habit, you’ll strengthen that muscle and will be far less likely to fall into or to stay in artistic ruts. In that way, this tip can be proactive in help avoiding artist’s block, but it can also be effective in breaking out of artist’s block, as well.
But how do you make it a habit? Check out our Craftsy blog post featuring science-backed tips for how to make art a habit, which will benefit you creatively for life.
3. Pretend it’s your job.
Consider your day job. Some days, you just don’t feel like going to work. Right? And yet, aside from the occasional “mental health day,” on most days you just do it. After all, there’s work to be done and a paycheck to be earned.
What if art were the same way — vital to your survival and well-being? In that case, you might complain a little bit, take a Facebook break here or there, but ultimately, you’d get to work. Approach your art similarly, as something that must be done, even when it’s difficult. If it’s helpful, ask a friend to give you an “assignment” to add an element of accountability.
4. Revisit an old project.
If you’re having trouble creating right now, take a trip down memory lane. Everyone has abandoned past projects; try revisiting some of yours. Often, by revisiting that old work, you can get fired up with new ideas. Maybe you’ll find that you’re inspired to continue itor maybe it will give you an idea for starting something new.
5. Seek the type of inspiration you need.
Plenty of artists need to seek their muse before they can create. Artistic inspiration is like nutrition for the brain, which gives artists energy to create.
So how could you nourish your artistic spirit and fill up your inspiration tank, so to speak? Indulge yourself in an afternoon spent strolling city streets, check out an art film, browse a museum or take a walk in nature. For me, sometimes it’s as easy as going to the local bookstore and looking for cool art books. No two artists are the same, so seek out inspiration in the way that works for you.
6. Try a prompt.
Sometimes you need a little nudge in the right direction. There are plenty of artistic prompts out there, including a great collection of them right here on Craftsy! When you’re having trouble starting something new artistically, sometimes a prompt can act as a little art direction right when you need it. Even if you don’t like the prompt or where it takes you, it will get you back into the act of creating, which can burst you out of your artist’s block.
7. Set a timer and doodle.
This method has always been effective for me when I’m in an artistic funk. I set a timer for 10 minutes, queue up a fun podcast or a documentary, and draw my little heart out without planning out the subject matter or worrying about how it looks. Giving myself this artistic “treat” is all that it takes to remind me that art is fun and joyous, and it helps me to stop taking it so seriously. If doodling isn’t your jam, it could be journaling or any other timed “free creative” time.
8. Join a group.
You know how you never work out as hard in your own living room as you would at a group class at your gym? The idea is the same with art. A group creates accountability, and will force you (in a good way) to get creating. Maybe you’ll find an artist group that meets at a local coffee shop — and if there isn’t one, maybe you can create one. Not only is creating in a group setting fun, but it inspires you to create in different ways.
9. Go somewhere new.
It’s amazing how a change of scenery can shake things up — and sometimes, shake you out of an artistic rut. In an ideal world, your getaway might take you to Bali or the south of France, but in the real world, your getaway might just be to a cute downtown a few miles away or to a new hiking trail. Sometimes, seeing new things can take you out of your mental blocks and allow you to create freely again.
10. Try an unfamiliar medium.
Are you a watercolorist? Try oil paints. Are you a pen and ink artist? Try colored pencil. Or, swap disciplines entirely and try something totally different, like knitting, jewelry making or woodworking. Stepping out of your comfort zone can help enliven your creativity and get you inspired to get back to the drawing board (literally). Working in a medium that doesn’t come naturally can help bring you back to a beginner’s state of mind, which is often all it takes to knock you out of an artistic funk.
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