How To Break Through Your Creative Block

This blog has addressed a lot of topics related to productivity but it has not yet faced one of productivity's greatest enemies: Creative Block, or writer's block, in most circles. It creeps in when you least expect it and, worse, when you really really do not want to deal with it. 

In fact, I don't think that anybody has ever wished for writer's block. Either way, it is a natural human experience that plagues everyone in every single industry of work. Kelton Reid, of the website Copyblogger, cites several experts who describe the experience of writer's block in different ways. 

One perspective is that writer's block implies a lack of structured accountability. In other words, defined time during which you must create and at the end of which you must stop or move on. 

Another perspective suggests that you must respect the occurrence of writer's block because it means that an idea has not yet had the time to fully form. 

On the neuroscientific level, the process of training so many millions of neurons to create a complex circuitry that represents your creativity and specificall the creative output of your work takes a lot of repeated reinforcement. In this way, writer's block may not be a bad thing but rather a very natural step in our creative processes that means that we are learning new strategies and our brains are working hard to strengthen that task's neural circuit. 

Sometimes writer's block occurs because so much neural energy is being focused toward that one task, subject, or material. The system gets overloaded and needs a temporary shutdown. 

Your whole imagination does not need to shut down, though, just that which is being used for that specific task. As a result, there are a great many creative ways to get past / through / over any creative block you face. Here are a few that can be generalized across industries and projects, based on this article by Jeff Goins:

  1. Get up and get blood flowing - walking, jogging, squatting, skipping, whatever you can do
  2. Play in some way - construct a building using only the materials on your desk
  3. Eliminate distractions - this is an obvious one, but maybe there are things around you that are more distracting to you than you thought
  4. Change your environment - 1. Go work somewhere else entirely, or 2. Change the layout / orientation of your desk and the location of your supplies
  5. Read something - anything at all. It is a quick energy switch for the brain
  6. Freewrite - about anything that comes to mind: could be make-believe, could be journaling about how much you hate writer's block
  7. Listen to music - try a new genre for a little bit to shake things up in your mind
  8. Revisit your routine you use to start your workday and optimize where needed
  9. Call a friend - don't text them, call them...
  10. Listen to a podcast or YouTube channel of someone inspiring to you - but not for too long, just a little soundbyte to get your thoughts swirling again


All of these ten ideas seem like distraction techniques, when in reality they are not avoiding the blocked subject matter at all.

Instead, these methods are circumventing the creative block in your brain by activating different neural pathways and creative outlets in order to still get back to the blocked task but with new neural energy. 

Although creative block is often solely associated with writers, these ten methods can also be applied to any job in any industry because every job is a representation of creativity. 

We all must use our unique resourcefulness in order to solve problems and complete projects, which means we all have our own unique version of creativity. Whatever your job, play around with the above methods to see what works for you next time you hit that wall and your brain shuts down mid-task.