Getting rid of creative block

Dear reader,

Today’s topic is one that is borne from my immediate vicinity, creatively speaking.

We usually post one to two blog posts on the JustSketchMe learn page a week and these range from tutorials, usually done by the extremely talented Alida Loubser, to rundowns and lists of things we think you’d find entertaining.

These blogs are usually the antithesis of a chore, as I imagine we share many similar interests and that reading our posts are as much fun as it is making them. Fingers crossed.

But this week, the dreaded writer’s block has struck and as suggested by Herman, one part of the duo that started this ol’ majestic app, we decided that that is the very thing that needs to be discussed.

We’ve all been there. One day you hit flow and the words/ brush strokes/ Apple pencil swishes are in peak season, and the next you’re left with nothing but a whim and a prayer. It’s not fun, but perhaps there is solace to be found in that it literally happens to us all.

So without further ado, let’s dive into ways that you can curb and cure creative block and get on with the damn thing you so desperately want to do but can’t find the will for.

You’re in a rut

Rats, it’s the rut! Look, when you’re stuck in the process of something, like smack in the middle with no guidance or clear goal in sight, the best way through it is through it.

Whether it’s a drawing, a script or a heartfelt message, everything looks better in the rearview mirror. Just do what needs to be done in whatever way is available to you resource-wise, be they emotional, financial or vocational.

Then, once the doing is out of the way, you can get to make it good. You could even get to make it amazing . Crazy things happen, you know.


You’re uninspired

This is the definition of a you problem. In a good way. Kind of.

Let’s say you start an art piece. You’ve got the character down, now you need to breathe life into them with design and concept. The only problem is… well, that all your ideas suck and you suddenly hate your character.

Go back to the drawing board and soak up the things that made you want to design or get into this character in the first place. Creativity is not a journey, so much as a process. The steps in your process that lead you to be stuck are usually the steps that can get you unstuck.


You’re being excessively critical

Write/ draw/ paint/ sing all the dumb shit. Period.

If you’re worried about being good or iconic or whether or not the thing you’re working on is The Thing™ that is going to catapult you into the public sphere and anoint you as the next luminary in the field you’re destined to be in, calm down.

The important part is getting it done in the first place. If your own sense of self-awareness or self-critique is preventing you from doing it, eat a slice of humble pie and make an absolute ass of yourself by writing or drawing the worst thing you can possibly imagine.

Then, even if the piece you’re working on doesn’t turn out to be the best, you can always say it's not the worst thing you’ve ever done.


You’re not in the mood

So I have it on good authority that this is one of the key scenarios where anxiety is a leading cause of motivation. That’s not a good thing.

Often times you’ll motivate yourself to do something you’re not ready for or immediately capable of because of fear.

Fear is a hell of an emotion (duh) and it can provide a sense of false productivity because at the end of the day you did end up producing the thing you said you wanted to… but at what cost?

If you’re not in the mood to do something, barring professional and personal obligations of course, then find ways of informing the next writing/ drawing/ singing/ acting/ cooking session when you are in the mood.

You don’t know how to do what you want to do

Finally, the blockage to end all blockages and the untimely death of so many great ideas.

Not knowing how to execute a vision or realising an idea is an immediate end to a lot of our pursuits, understandably so.

The answer to this is easy, but also crippling and daunting.

Seek help. Get better. Read. Learn. Google. Ask. Do.

(I’ve tried turning that into an acronym but it’s not pretty.)

If the only way to get closer to making something is by doing it then learning how to do it in the first place is even more important.

I’m not talking college degree in ‘insert relevant vocation’ learning-how-to-do-it, I’m talking ride a bicycle by busting your knees learning-how-to-do-it.

Make sense?


There we have it, a rumination on the creative block and ways to get over it, ironic because in writing this I got over my own creative block. See? Just do it. (Sorry)

And remember, great can be the enemy of good.

Thanks for coming to my TEDtalk.