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What to do when you have the opposite of a creative block – 10 tips for remaining focused for creatives

If you’re a creative in business then you’ve almost certainly suffered from some sort of creative block at one time or another. But what do you do when it’s the opposite problem – you’ve created numerous pieces and can’t decide how to move forward with them, to make them work for your business as well as being a satisfying outlet for your talents?

Personally my creative inspiration comes in waves – I’ll have a week where I do nothing but create create create. Then the next week I often have a slump and have to dig deep to find my focus and drive. If you’re an artist at heart I think this is quite a common problem – the majority of our joy comes from the making, not the marketing and selling, followed by the admin and inbox clearing. So I thought I’d share my processes with you that I’ve had to learn to follow for a happier creative business life. I’d also love to hear from you too on how you deal with the often polarising problems of creative excess and blocks.

  1. Enjoy the creating. This sounds over simplistic, but here I really mean find the outlets for your creativity that really motivate and inspire you. Don’t feel guilty for signing over a day, a week, a month to just making – without your talent you’d have no business, so you should never feel bad for enjoying this part.
  2. Journal, use notebooks. Write down all your ideas or sketch out thoughts and dreams. This will crystallise your thoughts before you even get out the tools of your trade. Some of our ideas will instantly pop out as being the ones to follow, leading to more fulfilled end results. You can always try our Creativity Journal to help with this.
  3. Make mistakes. Sometimes a kernel of an idea won’t fully form until you let it breathe and give life to it – you might go through many versions of the same idea before you get it ‘right’.
  4. Sleep on it. I often feel a little drained after an intense few days of making. This is not the time to rush your plans for your work. Take a break, go for walk, listen to music, indulge yourself. When you come back to your work it will be with fresh eyes and a more critical standpoint.
  5. Curate. It can be tempting to put everything you make out there for all the world to see immediately. I’m often tempted to do this because the creative buzz and intense focus often needs an outlet and when you love something you immediately want other people to love it too. But people don’t need to see everything you make, even if it is all amazing. Pieces will naturally group together, be it the mood you convey, a colour palette, shape or form. Try putting your pieces into categories before you think about releasing whole collections. Some pieces might be just perfect, but don’t fit with the rest. Be ok with this, set that piece aside for another day, use it as inspiration for a second collection at a later date.
  6. Be proud. We’re often proud of our work but terrified of people’s reactions all at the same time – don’t let this hold you back. Not everyone will like what you do, and that’s ok, but if no-one ever sees it then you’ll never know, and you’ll certainly never know if you can make it work in business.
  7. Get feedback. Ask people you trust for honest feedback – let them pick out their favourite pieces and see if it aligns with what deep down you know is the best of what you’ve made.
  8. Be generous with yourself. Keep the piece you love the most for yourself – be generous with your inner artist, if you can’t bear to part with a particular piece then don’t, this could be for many reasons – what it meant to you as a process, how it made you feel, how it defined that period in your life, what someone close to you thought of it. Then use it as a way to connect with yourself in moments of creative blocks, a reminder that you’ll soon revert to your abundant creative self.
  9. Great art takes time. It’s great that you can’t stop making – the best pieces of art come from practice, exploration and enjoyment – see it as part of the process of continual improvement and reinforcement of your skills.
  10. Enjoy it! I know I said this in point 1, but I really can’t stress how important it is to love what you do. If you’re making and making but don’t love it, then you need to stop. Be it for an hour, a day, or forever and change direction. It’s very easy to become disconnected with your creativity, especially when you’re doing it to make a living – we can be so influenced by trends, by other makers, the constant social media bombardment. As creatives we’re often perfectionists and can use making as a way to avoid making decisions or acknowledging the truth of where our hearts lie. Make sure you give yourself the space to appreciate your love for what you do, or if needs to be to find that new path.

I guess what I’ve learnt in the past 18 months of big changes in my business is not to be afraid to make those changes, regardless of what others might think or say – live your creative life for you.

Please let me know your thoughts and your tips for remaining focused – I’d love to hear from other creatives on how you work round these polarising experiences of abundance and blocks, and especially if you’re feeling stuck and not sure where to go from here – we have a closed Facebook Group where we can chat about all these issues – do join us!

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