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Creative blocks happen to all types of creative professionals. You know the feeling: anything that you worked on looks terrible, or worse — you don’t want to work at all.
Two types of creative blocks
I hate both types of blocks.
Not wanting to work at all leaves me feeling bored and guilty at the end of the day. Who knew before adulthood that not working sometimes is more tiring than working? The feeling that I have wasted away so much time that I will never get back leaves me sleepless at night sometimes, making the matter even worse. The bad feeling may carry on to the next day because of the restless night before, and if the next work day doesn’t pick up steam, the situation can continue for days!
I also hate the days when I feel uninspired — even though I was working, everything I did that day felt wrong and terrible. I couldn’t think straight and kept hitting the same wall repeatedly. If I design, everything that comes out of me looks ugly and a cliche; if I code, the bugs seem to persist no matter what I try, or coding problems become spaghetti knots that I can’t untangle.
How I deal with creative blocks
On the days when I don’t want to work at all, I try my best to pick up another type of work or hobby. When I hit this type of creative block, if I watch videos or browse shopping sites, I will start yawning non-stop with lots of tears but can’t fall asleep. The sensation feels like torture and the only way for me to get out of it is to start doing something that stimulates my brain, like painting a watercolor piece or fixing things around the house. There must be some medical explanation for my condition, and I suspect it has something to do with my brain producing melatonin at the wrong time. It is not productive work either to paint watercolor, but at least I feel better.
On the days when I dislike everything I designed or keep hitting a wall with coding, I tell myself that I should feel lucky to at least not be in the other creative block scenario. This type of creative block feels so mild in comparison. At least I don’t physically feel discomfort. The design work usually turned out to be salvageable the next day; even when I couldn’t figure out the coding problem, I was learning something while failing. I recently heard about the Rule of Third:
When you’re chasing a dream or doing anything hard, you’re meant to feel good a third of the time, okay a third of the time, and crappy a third of the time. If the ratio is roughly in that range, then you’re doing fine. If the ratio is off — you feel too good all the time or too bad, then you got to look at if you’re not trying hard or pushing yourself.
I find the quote very relevant to this type of creative block situation. Perhaps today is just one of the crappy days, and in the grand scheme of things, it is totally normal to have these crappy days or even a good sign!
Hear from You
Do you experience similar kinds of creative blocks? I imagine everyone does, or tell me otherwise and your secrets! Let me know how you feel and deal with creative blocks!
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Perfect timing, Wentin. I am stuck in that loop right now. Usually I can break out by working on another project but at the moment all my projects are stalled because I finished one. Now, that brings me to another situation where I finish a project and it takes some time before I can focus on anything. Does anyone else have that response to completing something?