Building Creative Motivation When You Feel Blocked
Creative block can strike at any time. Regardless of your role or industry, we all hit a creative wall at some point.
For many, finding the motivation to think creatively can be a challenge. When we inevitably hit that wall, it can be a drag on productivity and slow down not only our own work but that of our team and colleagues.
Here are some of the ways to address creativity blockers, focus on motivators to nudge creative thinking and regain creative production.
Address the blocks in the creative process
The first step to cultivating better motivation in the creative process is identifying and reducing the blockers.
There are multiple reasons you could be experiencing a block in your creative process. Being creative requires time, space, and motivation. Poor goals, burnout, or a counter-productive environment are all negative factors. Removing any blockers preventing creativity is always the right place to start.
There are things you can do to address what’s stopping you from coming up with your next great idea.
Set personal goals
As Yogi Berra might have said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.”
Failing to set action-oriented and achievable goals can lead to a lack of motivation. Setting realistic goals for yourself is a great way to work towards personal growth. It’s also a great way to dig yourself out of a deep creative block.
Not sure what kind of goals you should be reaching for to boost creative motivation? Start by setting SMART goals:
One other important detail – reward yourself when you hit your goals! Positive reinforcement has been shown to boost productivity and in the process create an upward spiral of creative output.
Address stress and burnout
It’s very difficult to create effectively under stressful circumstances.
Burnout develops from chronic stress. It has a proven negative effect on your ability to be productive and creative.
To combat stress and increase creativity, start by identifying and addressing the causes of stress. This could mean thinning out your schedule or learning to say no to tasks when feeling overwhelmed.
Look to increase healthy habits. Regular exercise and getting proper sleep can both have a significant impact on your mental health. Studies also show that breathing exercises can help you focus, reduce stress, and let creativity in.
Allow time for spontaneity and creativity
The creative process doesn’t always happen overnight. Typically, great ideas take time to develop and build momentum.
When was the last time you blocked off time for no reason other than being creative?
When making a to-do list or schedule, leave certain blocks focused on creative time. Dedicate time to working more on something you’re enjoying most. Leave room to be curious and go down the rabbit hole.
Make time to collaborate
Too often, we get stuck alone in a downward creative block spiral.
When working to boost creative motivation, it’s sometimes helpful to work collaboratively with teammates or colleagues. It’s always valuable to gain perspective from other sources.
Schedule brainstorming sessions to collaborate with a colleague on new ideas – without a strict structure.
You can also find inspiration for new creative ideas by joining an online community or course. Branch out, and don’t be afraid to ask for input or feedback on your creative projects.
Step away from the screen
For many of us, sitting in front of a screen consumes the large bulk of our working day. Not only can reducing screen time improve our productivity, but it also can provide the opportunity to approach challenges from a new perspective.
Try writing in a notebook (which can be a great source for inspiration later on) or brainstorming with the whiteboard or post-its. Or you could take a walking meeting or a drawing challenge.
Pick up a book
Picking up a book can be a great way to boost motivation. There are some great books that are sure to give you a push in the creative direction. To name a few;
1. Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History Of Innovation by Steven Johnson
2. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon
3. Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky
4. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind edited by Jocelyn Glei
Create an inspiring space
Inspiration can come from a variety of sources. One important factor in encouraging creativity is the physical environment where you’re working.
A dull or crowded workspace can be a distraction and a demotivator in your creative process. Conversely, an inspiring workspace has the power to boost creative confidence and motivation.
Simply customizing your workspace with photos, plants, or personal items can make you happier, more at ease, and up to 32% more productive. If possible, change up your surroundings, get inspired working outside in nature, go on a “workcation”, or even just an afternoon in a local cafe.
Delegate in the name of joy
In leadership positions with opportunities to delegate tasks, people will often delegate what’s easier to delegate. In order to find more motivation for creating, approach delegation in a different way.
Rather than starting by passing off tasks that you don’t want to do, begin by blocking off the things you really want to do. A positive perspective then aligns with the parts of your job that bring you joy.
The more passion you have for what you’re doing, the more easily the great ideas will flow.
Better creative motivation doesn’t happen overnight
When creative ideas feel just beyond your grasp, don’t panic. It can quickly develop into a self-perpetuating downward spiral.
Feeling blocked is a normal part of the creative process and one that you can overcome with the right set of tools and motivators. Finding inspiration for new and innovative ideas doesn’t always happen in a flash of brilliance.
Give yourself time to set goals, organize your tasks, find balance in your work and life, and discover your passion.
Rituals, routine, and organization have a place in the creative process – but so does spontaneous creating. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and explore new creative collaboration techniques and methods. You never know where your next creative idea is hiding.