Creative Prescription: What To Do When You’re Stuck

When it rains, think creatively!

When the dreaded creative block hits and you feel like every inspirational thought has deserted your universe, fear not! I have compiled my favourite pick-me-ups to get the juices flowing again or, at the very least, make you feel better about your day.

If you have any other suggestions I would love to hear them! This is a list that I add to often. I keep it at the back of my journal so I can refer to it anytime I need to.

Don’t run for the doctor when your day is grey, just follow my…

Creative Prescription: What To Do When You’re Stuck

♥ COLLABORATE! If you are stuck, ask for help. People were always saying this to us at music school. Successful artists usually work as part of teams, even if the wider-public isn’t aware of it. Sometimes it can be a solo thing but if you aren’t getting anywhere and you know you have a good idea, share it. If you’re afraid of people steal your ideas, share it with someone you trust or be really clear about what you’re doing…as a song-writing professor at Berklee used to say “Always ask if that bit of help was a gift or a co-write!” Even a call to your best mate, who hasn’t a clue about what you do, can provide a supportive ear, an honest opinion, a brand new angle you hadn’t seen before. Keep a list of people who you trust in this capacity and call on them when needed.

♥ Visit SoulPancake and pick a Creative Challenge to do or answer one of ‘Life’s Big Questions’. Chew over the inportant stuff in life and remember that no matter how big this block seems, it’s not the end of the world.

♥ Collage it! When I get stuck, usually with music or writing, I like to tackle the problem from a different angle and try visualizing it instead. I cut up old magazines or search through Flickr for images that evoke what it is I am trying to express. At the very least, this exercise distracts me from the immediate problem at hand and helps me refocus on what I was trying to capture in the first place. And cutting and sticking is fun, and a little messy!

♥ Read these interviews with novelist Helena Close, craft blogger Lee Meredith and visual artist Susan Moloney.

♥ Laugh. Hard!

♥ Consider if the media you are absorbing today is contributing to your mood. Too much sad TV? Or trashy, brainless shows? Are those lyrics really what your creative self needs to hear right now? I have just shelved a novel I was reading recently (very out of character…I like to finish things I start) set during the Spanish Civil war because I felt I wanted something more cheery to read before bed. Everything has a time and a place and maybe right now you need more Imogen Heap and less Elliot Smith!

♥ When struck with ‘Dunno’-itis I like to bake. The reason for this is three-fold.

  1. Mixing things and making gooey batter is fun. As is licking the spoon after.
  2. Things baking makes your home smell warm and comforting, and your mouth water.
  3. YOU GET TO EAT IT! Yup, you made it so you can eat it…all! And you will have successfully done something quantifiable, useful and filling.

Some of my favourite cheer-me-up bakes are cookies (easy-peasy), almond cake, marshmallow rice crispie squares (make you feel like you’re 6 again, so gooey, no-bake and these ones have EDIBLE GLITTER in them!), pumpkin pie (perfect for this time of year…use the insides of your carved pumpkin) and ofcourse, the old stand-by, fairy cakes.

♥ When the creative meanies strike it often does more than interrupt my work, it ruins my day. Gala Darling’s ‘50 Ways to Rescue The Worst Day Ever‘ are funny, thoughtful and, most importantly, do-able! Whether you would care to admit doing these things or not, they would definitely turn around a sad-face day. A few of my favourites are…

– Cut out pictures of Where’s Wally & paste them up in public (but slightly hidden) places.
– Construct a fort or wigpee & hide in there for a while with your favourite book.
– Dress up like a spy & take photobooth pictures.
– Walk around with a dictaphone & record the weird noises you hear.

Also worth checking out is her article ‘100 Things To Do When You’re Upset – The Sad Trombone List‘.

♥ Elizabeth Gilbert (of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ fame) talks about creativity, the pressures put on modern creatives and her take on tapping into the creative flow. It makes me feel better to know that I am part of a creative community and that everyone finds it hard sometimes, even best-selling authors!

♥ Most of all, believe in yourself. Goethe said,

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.

Too right!

4 responses to “Creative Prescription: What To Do When You’re Stuck

  1. Brilliant! Really enjoyed that and totally with you on the baking. I swear I will some day make a perfect chocolate souffle – it’s my default baking challenge when I really need to get my mind off other stuff. And Dylan Moran is just pure legend. Thanks for cheering me up Hon.
    Helena xx

  2. Quiche! Quiche is going in the oven right now. And lurking in the nearest bookstore.

    Oh, and admitting what is truly in my heart.

    • Quiche is something I have really wanted to try making, and I hear it’s not too hard. On the to-do list. I wish my village had a bookstore…lurking in them was one of my all-time favourite things to do in Boston…especially with you ;) Right now I’m making do with packing my shelves full of wonderous books!

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