For the last five years living in New York City I’ve looked forward to Thursday because it meant creative team night at my church. This was a night that everyone who served on creative teams (everything from musicians and vocalists to writers and graphic designers) got together to worship, hear from a creative leader in our church and learn more about our teams. There is something electric about being in a room full of people volunteering their time to be creative-it’s like the ideas are popping like fresh kernels on the stove.
But all too often I’ve found myself experiencing creator’s block where all of a sudden I have no great ideas, don’t know what I want to make, or can’t get started. Although I no longer live in NYC, it is Thursday so I thought it may be appropriate to share some ideas on how to overcome creator’s block and how I get the ideas flowing again!
Do something mindless: Raise your hand if you get great ideas in the shower or right as you lay down to sleep. I know that so many times in those moments when I’m doing ‘nothing’ or letting my brain relax that the ideas come flooding in. Some people keep dream journals next to their bed just for occasions like this. Sometimes the ideas are super weird and random (the other night I had an image of a grand piano perched on a window as if it was falling out with bunches of flowers on top of it). Sometimes they’re really great (like new ideas about how to use Marielle|Ejiama scraps). Either way, it’s nice to see what your brain creates when you’re not stressing about creating. Other ways to let your creative brain lap on the shore of your next big idea are to wash dishes, go for a hike or going for a run.
Look up some inspiration; get focused: As a creative I can often get overwhelmed about all of the fun things I want to make. As a result, I sometimes feel stumped and paralyzed and end of making nothing. One of the ways I love to get the creative brain jumping in one direction is to create mood boards. I’ve always loved collages and mood boards and I find them incredibly helpful in maintaining focus and direction on a project. If you’re not into creating mood boards look up ones other people have created! Pinterest boards, tumblr accounts, and even DIY bloggers can be incredibly focused and have a specific aesthetic which can serve as inspiration for you if you’re looking for project inspiration.
Refresh your brain; study techniques: While I was in high school I loved art history. Even though I’m not still toting around a 12 lb Gardner book I still love to look up my favorite artists and to discover new ones. Studying and researching techniques from some of my faves helped me to hone in on my style and remind me what I love about creating. Thiebaud’s thick paint that emulated the icing on his cakes remains one of my favorite inspirations. I love how the style can inform the subject matter and vice versa. Maybe you’re making water inspired ceramics and want to explore how thin tinted glaze can emulate the movement of waves. Or maybe you’re weaving a tapestry inspired by the desert and want to mimic the contrast of the dry heat with some of the desert flora through different kinds of twine and yarn. The options are endless and exploring a single technique can often spill out to creating a series or a natural creative brainstorming cloud.
Make something ‘bad’: For some reason we (I) feel that everything we ever create has to be perfect and ‘complete’ when I’m done. How untrue is this in reality! In order to get the great ideas we often have to sift through a lot of mediocre or bad ones. The stress of that pressure can be paralyzing and allowing yourself to create ‘bad’ art can free you from that pressure. Although I understand and apply this concept when I’m writing (for this blog and also short stories and poetry over the years) it’s a tough one for me to grasp when it comes to fine art. Often when I’m designing (after I’ve created my mood board), I’ll just start with one idea or technique (like a front yoke) and then just start drawing. The first few ideas are usually not that great, but they often contain elements and ideas that will make up the final project. Making something with the intended audience of one (you) can be incredibly freeing and rewarding.
Collaborate: In school I loathed group projects. Have you seen that meme that says ‘when I die I want the members of my group to lower me in the ground so they can let me down one more time’ floating online? I remember laughing so hard the first time I saw it because group projects can truly shave a few years off you life. Post school I’ve found that collaboration can give birth to amazing ideas. While I lived in NYC I was a part of serving on the venue design team at Hillsong and served as a leader during my time. When a group of creative minds volunteer their time and energy to create ways to welcome people and decorate for events it was always better than something my one brain could come up with. Even though at this time Marielle|Ejiama is just a side passion project, it means all the difference to get to do it alongside my business partner and long time friend (and former roommate!). She’s hands down the most creative person I know and we each bring our strengths to the table and have a lot of fun doing it! Sometimes working with someone is not realistic, but if there is the option or you just need to get your creative mojo back you should see what can come from it.
What are your favorite things to do when you’re experiencing creator’s block? I want to know! Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram.