Overcoming Creative Block
One of the biggest problems that any creative can face is a creative block. Overcoming creative block can be easier said than done so I have begun work putting together this guide on how to find creative inspiration and beat creative block.
This guide will be an asset to anybody working in the creative industry; artists, writers, designers, filmmakers, etc.
The idea for this endeavour came after I published two articles loosely based on the subject of inspiration; one of which discussed the best type of art books for beginners & experienced artists.
In anticipation of the upcoming eBook guide ‘How To Find Creative Inspiration’, I have put together a shortlist of ‘10 Ways To Find Creative Inspiration’.
10 Ways To Find Creative Inspiration
As a precursor to my upcoming guide I have put together this shortlist of ten ways to get inspired and as with the guide, although aimed at artists and writers, these points can be used for creatives in any part of the industry.
- Go For A Walk
- Keep A Journal
- Make A Pinterest Board
- Build A Set
- Organise Your Materials
- Study The Masters
- Go Urban Sketching (en plein air)
- Draw A Character In Your Own Style
- Illustrate A Recipe
- Coffee Shop Sketching
1. Go For A Walk
This one here is quite possibly the easiest way to get inspired, or reinspired. Simply disconnect from whatever creative endeavour you are struggling with, put on your shoes and head outside.
Something that nearly every successful human being has in common is that they take regular walks, from Leonardo da Vinci to Bill Gates, this method has been an integral part of their inspiration finding activities.
A key suggestion for this method is to take a sketchbook or notebook with you just in case inspiration strikes whilst you’re out walking, but don’t let it be a pressure. Don’t go out with the intention of capturing a moment.
2. Keep A Journal
Keeping a journal is something that probably every single creative has set out to do at some point and probably let slip.
This is such a useful method for feeding inspiration though and one that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked. For artists, use it as a way to sketch a small moment or event of each day, for writers don’t just simply record an event, write about how you felt, how it sounded, dig into details and capture the moment as though it’s going into your work.
Also important to remember, if you miss a day, don’t worry, don’t sweat, and definitely don’t stop. Just get back to it as soon as you can, it is too easy to let a missed day become an ended journal, remember this isn’t a job unless you journal for a living, in which case yeah, best to worry.
3. Make A Pinterest Board
Pinterest is such a powerful social media platform and sadly it is incredibly undervalued and overlooked by many creatives. Break the mould, today, get stuck in and take advantage of an underused power tool.
Pinterest acts as an online, virtual pinboard that you can add unlimited pins to, and in fact, unlimited boards. It’s the perfect tool for building inspiration boards, mood boards, reference boards and more.
For writers, you can create a board of characters or scenes or whatever it is you wish and use your writing skills to describe the images that appeal to you in detail and work them into story prompts.
There are a number of different ways to use Pinterest to find creative inspiration.
4. Build A Set
This option provides the perfect excuse to play with toys. Grab your favourite reference material whether that is figures or apples and set them up in a variety of ways. Incorporate other items as well such as boxes, bottles, glasses or food.
You can use this option to create a still life and just draw what you see or you can take it a step further and use your imagination with it, even if you don’t have any action figures or toy cars. Cut a bunch of broccoli down and set up a forest scene in your chopping board. Are those mushrooms in the fridge or is it a fairy village?
Set your scene, set your lighting, maybe it’s inside, maybe in a dark box, or maybe outside in the garden or the park, the possibilities are endless and the only limit is your imagination. This is a great way to see things from perspectives you wouldn’t naturally think of and provides a strong referential asset for artists and writers alike.
5. Organise Your Materials
A tidy setup is a tidy mind, it doesn’t take long for pens, pencils, paintbrushes or files to get incredibly messy and disorganised, if a creative session begins with a mad search for a specific object or file, the inspiration will be leaking out of you in the process.
Organising your materials, whatever they may be, is the best way to be ever-ready to strike while the iron is hot and get something done in the spark of the moment. In line with the hot iron analogy, imagine if a blacksmith pulled the sword from the forge and then had to hunt for his hammer before shaping it, that iron would not be malleable by the time he did.
Another advantage of organising your materials is that you may well stumble across something you haven’t used in a while or have forgotten about, this alone is sometimes enough to spark inspiration. This option is a simple, yet highly effective way of not only getting inspired, but maintaining inspiration too.
6. Study The Masters
As the founder of the art collective ‘Studying The Masters’ it not only seemed necessary to mention this option, but also very relevant.
The old masters themselves learned many techniques and drew inspiration from the masters that had come before them, see Peter Paul Rubens’ Study of The Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci for instance.
Either use the internet, an art of book or head out to a museum or gallery and take your sketchbook and simply study what you see. Ask questions as you produce your study to ascertain why the master made the decisions they did, what medium they used, compositional choices etc. It helps to know how to look at art as you do this too.
For writers this step is even easier, read the works of your favourite masters, or least favourite and pinpoint why that writing style appeals or doesn’t.
Studying the masters to find creative inspiration is an age old method used by artists throughout the centuries that offers a multitude of benefits and rewards to those who undertake it.
7. Go Urban Sketching (en plein air)
Grab your materials and head outside into the great wide yonder. The difference between this and option one is that this time around, your intention is to capture what you find outside and not simply walk around it.
Also worth noting is that you can also do this indoors if need be using software such as Google Maps or MapCrunch and getting the same results from the comfort of your own home.
Going outside and capturing what you see though is the best way to learn to see how light reacts in real life, or how the world smells, sounds, feels, you can utilise all of your senses whilst outside and this benefits both artists and writers massively.
Urban Sketching to find creative inspiration is a practice that every artist should have a go at from to time in order to flex those creative muscles and try something new.
8. Draw A Character In Your Own Style
In today’s world of internet and mass connectivity there are an abundance of art and writing challenges, you can pick any one of these as a way to get stuck in and get inspired to create. One in particular that stands out though is the ‘Draw This In Your Style’ challenge.
Exactly as it says on the tin, take a famous character whether that’s a fairy tale character from your favourite children’s book or perhaps a Pokemon or movie character, and recreate it in a different way, in line with your personal style. The same applies for writers but perhaps change the way a famous character comes across in the written form.
It’s also a good excuse to work on crossovers too, how would Saruman have looked with a lightsaber for instance, other than like Count Dooku of course… Or you could write about the time that Little Red Riding Hood fed her grandmother to a wolf to get early dibs on the inheritance money.
9. Illustrate A Recipe
Everyone wants to leave behind some kind of a legacy, eternity is in our hearts and all humans fear being forgotten. One sure fire way to leave a legacy and remain remembered is to create a killer recipe book and illustrate it yourself. Something this useful will not be forgotten or left aside and if it is, it’s likely to be picked up by someone else anyway.
If you can’t cook don’t worry, take a well reviewed recipe or selection of recipes from the internet or a chef’s book and simply rewrite it and illustrate it. If you can cook, even better, get to work on a ‘family’ recipe book and illustrate your ingredients and maybe the steps needed to create a dish. The fun part of this is that you need to study from life and therefore get to eat the results, yum!
For writers, this is equally as fun. Take a recipe and rewrite it in the tone of your favourite author; a Shakespearian Gordon Ramsay recipe would be a killer piece of prose. Maybe write a recipe from your favourite part of the world, or history, from the perspective of one of your characters or in the style of a news article or Nat Geo piece.
10. Coffee Shop Sketches
Yaaay! Another excuse to get outside, yeah you heard right introverts, get up and get out as this is always a winning way to find inspiration. Plus coffee is a win regardless.
It is incredibly hard and intimidating to initially go into a coffee shop, pull out your sketchbook or notepad and begin work, but once you do you will reap benefits with every stroke. There is such a variety of people, objects, ideas, sounds, smells, feelings just waiting for a creative to tap into inside every coffee shop in the world.
Get really involved and work on a napkin with a biro, some very famous creatives used this method to pay for their meals in the past, this may not work out well in a modern setting but hey, it’s a great memento.
Upcoming eBook: How To Find Creative Inspiration – A Guide For Artists & Writers
The ten ways to find creative inspiration listed above are a mere taster of the mammoth guide I’m currently working on putting together in order to help creatives of all walks of life and parts of the industry overcome creative block and get inspired almost on demand.
This guide will cover the aforementioned options in much more detail as well as a plethora of other ways to generate inspiration.
I’ll also continue posting my monthly articles offering insight and tips for finding inspiration as the guide comes together.
The best thing about this guide other than the fact that it’s going to be an absolute treasure trove full of inspiring gems is that it will be totally free. Yeah that’s right, and that should be all the inspiration you need in order to sign up below so as not to miss out on it!
While you await the guide’s release, I’ll be sure to send you a monthly update (never more than once per month) on the progress as well as some handy tips and tricks for getting inspired.