How to Get Past Creative Block - Gel Press

How to Get Past Creative Block

Artists Creative Block

Every creative individual, whether amateur doodler or seasoned artist, has faced the dreaded creative block at some point in their journey. It's the moment where the artistic well runs dry, and the once-vibrant stream of creative ideas trickles to a frustrating halt. It's a state of mind that can be as painful as it is perplexing. But rest assured, as unsettling as creative blocks can be, they are not insurmountable.

What is a “creative block”?

A creative block, or artist's block, refers to the inability to access one's ability to create. It can manifest in a range of symptoms from lack of motivation to skepticism about one's abilities. For some, it's a temporary, mild annoyance; for others, it can be a prolonged, soul-draining experience.

Yet, no matter the intensity, its causes often lead to a similar impasse: a perceived lack of connection to inspiration. The creative mind is an intricate network of thoughts, emotions, and external stimuli. Understanding how these elements interact and can lead to disruption is key.

What Causes a Creative Block?

Creative blocks can be triggered by a myriad of factors, each deeply personal and often entangled with an individual's unique circumstances and mental state. 

Mental and Emotional Factors that can cause a Creative Block

Creative block in artists can be caused by various mental and emotional factors, such as:

  1. Self-doubt: Questioning one's abilities and doubting the quality of their work.
  2. Fear of failure: Being afraid to take risks or create something that may not meet expectations.
  3. Perfectionism: Striving for flawlessness and being overly critical of one's own work.
  4. Comparison trap: Constantly comparing oneself to others and feeling inadequate.
  5. Lack of inspiration: Feeling uninspired or stuck in a creative rut.
  6. Emotional stress: Dealing with personal or external pressures that hinder creativity.
  7. Burnout: Exhaustion and mental fatigue from overworking or lack of balance.

To overcome a mental creative block, artists can:

  1. Practice self-care: Taking breaks, getting enough rest, and engaging in activities that rejuvenate the mind.
  2. Seek inspiration: Exploring new art forms, visiting galleries, or immersing in nature.
  3. Experiment and play: Trying new techniques or materials, embracing mistakes, and allowing for spontaneity.
  4. Collaborate: Engaging with other artists or seeking feedback from trusted sources.
  5. Set realistic goals: Breaking down larger projects into manageable tasks and celebrating small achievements.
  6. Cultivate a positive mindset: Challenging negative self-talk, practicing self-compassion, and focusing on personal growth.

Remember, creative blocks are normal and temporary. By addressing these mental and emotional factors, artists can find renewed inspiration and regain their creative flow.

External Factors That Can Cause Creative Block

Sometimes, the struggles aren't born within; they're a response to external life factors. Financial pressures, relationship challenges, workplace stressors, and other external factors can permeate your creative space, creating a hostile environment for innovation. .

Here are some external factors that can contribute to an artist experiencing a creative block:

  1. Financial pressures: The burden of financial responsibilities and the need to make ends meet can create stress and distract artists from their creative pursuits. Concerns about stability and income can hinder the freedom to explore and experiment.
  2. Relationship challenges: Difficulties in personal relationships, whether romantic or otherwise, can have a profound impact on an artist's emotional well-being. Relationship issues can consume mental and emotional energy, leaving little room for creative inspiration.
  3. Workplace stressors: Artists who work in demanding environments, such as strict deadlines or high expectations, may find themselves feeling overwhelmed and creatively stifled. Stressful work environments can drain energy and limit the mental space needed for creative expression.
  4. Personal health issues: Physical or mental health problems can significantly affect an artist's ability to focus and engage in their creative process. Health issues can disrupt routines, cause fatigue, and hinder the ability to find inspiration or concentrate on artistic endeavors.
  5. Lack of inspiration or exposure to new experiences: Artists thrive on fresh ideas and new perspectives. When experiencing a lack of inspiration or limited exposure to new experiences, artists may struggle to find innovative approaches to their work. This can lead to a creative block as they find themselves stuck in familiar patterns without the necessary spark to ignite their creativity.

By understanding and addressing these external factors, artists can proactively work towards overcoming creative blocks and nurturing their artistic growth.

To overcome these external factors and release the mental block, consider the following strategies:

  1. Creating boundaries and setting aside dedicated time for creativity
  2. Establishing a routine to provide structure and consistency
  3. Seeking support from friends, family, or a professional
  4. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress
  5. Seeking inspiration from different art forms or exploring new artistic techniques

By addressing these external stressors and implementing these strategies, you can free up your artistic energies and regain your creative flow.

10 Practical Ways to Breakthrough Creative Block

  1. Take a Pause: Step away from your creative task and engage in a non-creative pursuit like going for a walk or meditating. Sometimes, the answers emerge when you give your mind a break.
  2. Seek Inspiration: Expose yourself to different forms of art, travel, or immerse yourself in nature. Attend concerts or simply observe people. Broadening your experiences provides a diverse palette for your muse to draw from.
  3. Embrace Novelty: Break the monotony by trying something new - like monoprinting! If you're a painter, experiment with poetry. If you're a writer, explore photography. Cross-pollination of artistic forms can lead to exciting breakthroughs.
  4. Collaborate: Join forces with a fellow artist for a collaborative project. The exchange of ideas and energy can invigorate your creativity and lead to unexpected breakthroughs.
  5. Prioritize Self-Care: Take care of your mind and body. Regular exercise, healthy eating, enough sleep, and mindfulness practices create a fertile ground for creativity.
  6. Keep a Creative Journal: Document your creative journey, including wins, losses, processes, and feelings. A journal provides perspective and reminds you that creativity is dynamic and evolving.
  7. Establish Routine: Maintain a consistent creative routine, whether it's creating every day or designating specific "creative hours." A schedule helps establish normalcy and control in uncertain circumstances.
  8. Engage with a Creative Community: Seek support from fellow artists, share struggles, exchange ideas, and celebrate each other's victories. A creative community provides camaraderie and accountability.
  9. Embrace Resilience: Accept that creative blocks are a natural part of the process. Develop perseverance and push through challenges with determination.
  10. Embrace Experimentation: Be open to trying new techniques, styles, or approaches. Embracing experimentation can lead to fresh perspectives and creative breakthroughs.


While creative blocks can feel paralyzing, they are not permanent. By understanding the various factors that contribute to artistic stagnation and employing a range of strategies for unblocking the creative flow, you can keep your artistic well from running dry. Remember, despite the challenges, the canvas of your imagination is ever-expansive, waiting for your next brushstroke of genius.