Three Ways to Beat Creative Slumps

What is one to do when in a creative slump? What causes creative slumps?

I think I will answer the latter first. Of course there can be many reasons why an artist or designer may be in a  creative slump. I can really only answer for myself with confidence. I think the answer lies in this question: Am I having fun?

Am I having fun? 

If the answer is yes, and I allow myself to be playful and just allow the art follow a “natural” course I tend to have more fun. In turn, I tend to spend more time on the work and become more productive.

If the answer is no, and I get bogged down in doing things in a specific way and put too much pressure on my self I tend to have less fun. Art making becomes a chore. In turn, I spend less time on the work and become less productive. It becomes a vicious cycle if left unchecked.

If I am having fun and are being productive, I don’t feel the need to change anything and it is really about keeping up the momentum and not getting stuck in a rut. However, I can’t think that way. Worrying about the possibility of getting stuck in a rut is the start on the path to not having fun.

So what is an artist to do when the rut starts to form and the artist is not having fun?

1. One thing I like to do, especially recently, is to go on a walk and bring my camera. Just take in the world and pay attention to the things that attract my eye. Take a picture. Don’t worry about having the perfect photograph or making art. I am not a photographer but it is a nice way to see and record the world in a fleeting amount of time. It give me time for my mind to wander and dream. Plus, it is exercise that that is always good.

2. Think back to what got me into art. What did I do as a kid with my crayons and paper? I probably just played. I wasn’t concerned with pleasing anyone (well…I did like to show off what I did to my parents but what kid doesn’t?), making money or making history. I liked getting lost in the moment. The best thing I can do is to just play. Draw or paint for the sake of drawing or painting. Who cares about quality. 

3. If I am bogged down with a specific project and it becomes a chore, maybe I should just do something that is not related to that project. Maybe if I am working on something more conceptual, and abstract, maybe I should switch gears and do a work that is from observation and representational. Maybe I could just make something completely nonobjective. Basically do the opposite of what I am doing. Who knows? Something could come out of it to help with the project.

Basically when in a creative slump I am not having fun. The objective is to have fun and when I enjoy my work I will become more productive. So I must find a way to have fun.

If you are not an artist or designer, this is probably true for you too. People that have success in any industry probably like what they do. A person who makes a lot of money investing probably loves the thrill of it. It is exciting to them. A successful football player probably really enjoys what he does…usually when an athlete struggles is when he/she is pressing and is putting too much pressure on his/her self. That person is not having fun. The key is to have fun and if you are not…find the way that brings fun back.


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