Creativity is intense. Using your imagination to pursue your passion requires you to step out of the box, take risks, push boundaries, get out of your comfort zone and learn new things in this ever evolving world. You find beauty in the little things and understand how the world works in a different perspective. As a creative professional, you want to create content that is of quality, that you love, jolts viewers, solves problems and pays your bills.
When you get that raw creative wave, you’ve got inspiration kicking in like a cup of coffee. You know what they say, “Given enough coffee you could rule the world!” Your mind is set ablaze and you know you got to catch that wave and ride it. In this moment, you’re passionately designing and putting ideas and concepts down and implementing them. These feelings coursing through you are that of being driven, energetic, anxious yet excited. You take a step back and look at what you’ve created and you’re in utter awe, sometimes shocked because you doubted your creativity/imagination. And right now, you feel good.
Then, out of the blue you experience periods of stalled creativity…It seems like a flat line
Experiencing a creative block can be your worst enemy. It can come from almost anywhere and can last a day, a week or even a month and that’s when you know, it is not looking good at all. You are trapped in your familiar way of thinking and everything around you just looks the same. There’s the struggle of coming up with concepts or you’re overwhelmed with too many great ideas. Maybe you’ve made too many commitments. Fine lining the content/ edits you have don’t look appealing to you. What if you had this equipment or these materials? Most times, ideas are boring or you may have a fear of failure or a need for perfectionism. In the end, the final creations aren’t in line with your vision, they’re just not cutting it.
Not only is it frustrating, but it is also detrimental to your health and career. Think about what Melyssa Griffin says here, for those whose livelihoods are based in a creative career (I’m talking to you: bloggers, artists, writers, photographers, designers, makers, entrepreneurs, and basically anyone who does anything that involves coming up with new ideas), a creative block can be downright terrifying. Losing your inspirational edge can mean an inability to make a deadline, loss of income, and a whole lot of anxiety. Your stress levels go a notch higher when you see other creatives flourishing; you’re happy for them but you’re wondering ‘Where am I going wrong?’
You can’t really afford to be short of quality content.
This is all normal.
There’s nothing wrong with you. We all experience a creative block at some point in our lives; (just because you’re not seeing a creative professional putting it out there on social media doesn’t mean they don’t go through it). It happens to the best of us, but you can get out of that slump and get back your focus, see the wave and ride it.
Here at Lysa we asked a bunch of different creatives how they feel when they go through a creative block and what they do to get that spark back. We got quite a number of responses, you’ll even notice a pattern in what they do. However, what works for one creative may not work for you; we are after all different people. But, you may just find something in here that can help you out. No matter where you are, you have the tools and you are capable of getting out of this creative rut. All you’ve got to do is put it into action.
Responses from different creatives on experiencing a creative block and how they overcome it.
Adele Dejak – Fashion Accessories Designer (KE)
Read books and exercise.
Tintseh – Photographer (KE)
A creative block has different stages for people. There’s no solution that works for everybody. I have a friend who just downs one shot of vodka and it stimulates him to create. That doesn’t work for me. When I go through one, I have the urge to just leave the house. It doesn’t matter where I’m going, I just go. If I’m not leaving the house, I sit at the balcony and read at least a page of a self-empowerment book. Here’s the thing, when you don’t know what to do, just create more. Leave the tap open!
Nallah B. Sangaré – Makeup Artist, Creative Director & Model Manager (KE FR CI ML)
I feel very low and discouraged when I’m in a creative rut. I start by resting and finding a Zen spot to reflect; a nice quiet place with a good view or when I’m in Nairobi, I go for a walk at Karura Forest. Then I need some self-care time, which involves some skin love routine and most of the time, a new hairstyle. I also like to draw some henna on myself or a face chart (makeup on paper).
The Great Duch – Men’s Fashion Enthusiast & Content Creator (ZA)
I go to my childhood memories and think of everything that I was deprived of, all the things that they said no to, the things I wasn’t allowed to do and find a way to make it happen now. Also, Pinterest and certain movie scenes serve as inspiration.
I think that’s the most frustrating feeling as a creative, both for my course and being a content creator. It’s so overwhelming how unmotivated you can feel and how easily you can become complacent. So I always talk to a family member or friends because they know me best and try and take away something from the advice they give me. I also love to go out for a walk or sit in a coffee shop and just thing about whatever it is I need to solve or create.
Moh Mckenzie – Muse & Creative Stylist (KE)
So basically when I’m stuck and need to create something that will blow people’s minds, I listen to music. Music cools me down, reduces the fatigue I had and most of all helps me brainstorm ideas out of this world and now that’s where all the magic happens.
Official Royal Arts [Swabir Fuad] – Photographer (KE)
Everyone has rock bottoms. Mine are just really bad. I get anxious when I hit my creative block. I can’t think of anything. Anything I touch doesn’t come out the way I want to leaving me frustrated and angry at myself. This goes on for a while before I sit back and look at how far I have come. And I say to myself, “If I’ve made it this far without anyone believing in me then for sure I can better my best.” To get my spark on, here are a few things that I do;
- I take long walks at the beach and appreciate the little things in life like crabs, the sea shells and I love watching the sunrise. It’s about looking in unexpected places; places people take for granted.
- Other creatives who inspire me are a great deal in my creative block.
- Getting a fresh perspective on things also helps me a lot and this is done when I give myself some ‘me’ time. I write down whatever comes into my mind or I listen to music to keep my creative juice flowing. Also, I love to indulge in activities that expand my mind such as motivational talks, mind sessions and books.
- I remind myself to go against the flow instead of with the flow. It is such a push for seeing things in a unique way that makes me not move backwards.
- But most of all I pray to God. It humbles me and makes me feel at peace.
Ambati Anyanje – Model/ Muse (KE)
I’ve learnt it’s best to just take breaks, as many as I need. When I feel I cannot create anymore, I stop. Constantly trying to produce content has been harmful to my mental health. I’ve also learnt there is no brand, I can create what I want. It’s my space. I am human before I am an artist. We should own our health before we own our need to be brands.
Lyra Aoko – Photographer (KE)
It’s pretty simple; take a break and discover things that you love which will bring back the spark in other areas of your life.
Andile – Model & Content Creator (ZA)
I’ve actually been feeling less creative over the past few weeks. I think it’s necessary to take a break from social media in order to think clearly. The break I take from creating content gives my mind that space to induce my creativity. During this break, I also like to change my scenery and experience something totally different from what I’m used to.
CJ Pixels – Filmmaker/Photographer (KE)
Sometimes you’re just not motivated at all to shoot, yet it’s the thing you love most. Ironic right? Sometimes you shoot but you just don’t love or feel that ‘spark’. It’s not that you hate it, but it’s not IT! Then there’s times when you’re just overwhelmed with work (the not so beautiful shoots; working with cooperate and you have to deal with clients and meet deadlines because in the end, bills have to be paid). The thing I do is I just step back from it all and do something that I love, that has nothing to do with shooting and creating. This is difficult for most creatives because it’s all we know and love, creating content. So I take a step back, play basketball and cook. It works for me, it may work for you, but every person is different.
Valary Mdeizi – Makeup Artist, Body Paint Artist & Content Creator (KE)
Being in a creative block feels awful. It stresses me out because I know I need to create but I just can’t. To get back, I like to;
- Celebrate my small wins and this keeps me going. Sometimes we forget how important it is to appreciate the little achievements we get and focus on big things only to be disappointed yet those big moments are a sum of all the small wins.
- Visit spaces that tend to have that creative vibe going on such as galleries, fine art studios and museums.
- Going for walks in the park or somewhere quiet helps to clear my thoughts and also seek inspiration. If I have been working from home, I change my scenery and work from a different space like a cafe
- Love to meet up with close friends in the creative industry and share on different things and just talk. (good friends can charge you up)
Nicole Agneta – Muse/Poet (KE)
It’s honestly very disheartening. You start to wonder whether you’re actually good at what you do. I think the trick is to delve into or explore other interests. If you get that spark through a different creative outlet, it can translate to the one you’re stuck in. Another thing is discipline. You can’t stop simply because you don’t feel like it today or you’re waiting to feel inspired. Sometimes waiting in that sense breeds opportunity for self-doubt…and self-doubt is crippling for a creative.
Malawi King – Model/Muse (KE)
Creatives can get stuck in a lot of ways; financially, lack of quality content etc. To me all these hardships motivate me to work harder, sacrifice more and create more. I always remind myself that I am born to be a creative to live. The fact that I have to create keeps me going.
Media courtesy of the creatives’ Instagram pages.