Creative works engender a very satisfying cycle of inspiration. An artist needs the inspiration to paint or write or sculpt; then the product of their creation inspires people who see it or read it. This, in turn, triggers inspiration in their minds, and the cycle continues. There are inevitably occasions in an artist’s life when the creative muse takes a vacation and you sit staring at a blank piece of paper unable to come up with any ideas you feel would be worth the effort to explore. Is there anything you can do to get through an inspiration block?
It can be very frustrating to run short of ideas, and if you make your living from your art, it can be even more stressful. The problem is that feeling angry and stressed can make it even harder to think of anything, increasing your negative feelings until it becomes almost impossible to think straight. If you find yourself caught in this stress loop, you need to try and relax and break the cycle. Meditation, mindfulness, yoga – there is any number of methods you can use to help you relax and open your mind. If you’re not sure which would suit you, just search online to find out what each involves and try some of the free resources available like audio files and guided meditations.
Change Your Surroundings
There’s an old saying which you’ve probably heard before that says a change is as good as a rest. If you’re stuck in a rut, try doing something different to kickstart your brain. It could be a long walk or a cycle ride; a shopping trip or exploring a new place. The idea is to stop your mind from obsessing over the problem to enable it to reset. There is a technique used in speech and language therapy that involves diverting the client’s attention away from the impediment they are struggling with onto an entirely unrelated subject. The therapist then re-introduces a question based on the area that is causing problems, and if they time it right the client’s brain clears its circuits, and they make a breakthrough. This switching technique can work for anyone to clear a blockage in the mind. How many times have you had someone’s name, or the answer to a trivia question, right on the tip of your tongue but been unable to bring it to mind? The best thing to do is focus your attention on an entirely different thing, and then like magic, you’ll find the answer pops into your head.
Do something new
You might find it beneficial to try something completely new that you’ve never done before but fancy having a go at. Learning a new skill demands complete concentration and can be a solution if all other methods of diversion fail. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s something that will take you far out of your comfort zone into uncharted territory. It could be extreme sports or martial arts, but could just as well be learning a new language or trying your hand at needlepoint. Whatever commands your undivided attention is the key to achieving full diversion, and that is the best way to break out of the prison of artist’s block.
It’s something of a tradition that creative types tend to turn to illicit substances and alcohol to fuel their inspirational thought processes. A glance back through history will show how this stereotype evolved, from the romantic poets of the 19th century and their fondness for opium and laudanum, through the alcoholism of Tchaikovsky and Hemingway and the modern creative icons famous for their drug addictions, like Kurt Cobain. LSD is said to have been responsible for some of the most celebrated music of the 20th century, including the iconic Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, released by the Beatles in 1967. If you find yourself tempted by illicit substances or relying on an extra glass of wine to get you through the day, make sure you are aware of the legal and health implications before you go any further. In Canada and some US states medical marijuana has been decriminalized, and here in Oregon it was made legal to smoke and possess marijuana for recreational purposes on July 1, 2015, so if you would like to try it and see if it inspires you, consult a reputable supplier like Dope Mail for more information.
Look for new sources of inspiration
Maybe you’re used to your muse dropping in on a regular basis to shower you with good ideas whenever you need them. If yours has been a no-show recently, take matters into your own hands and look for things to inspire you. The world is full of new and interesting places, people and experiences, so look everywhere you can, even in the most unlikely situations. You could sit in a coffee shop and watch the world go by, observing the colors and shapes, the faces and actions of passing people, the architecture, and the trash being blown along the street. Or you could drive to the ocean, walk along the shore and watch the waves. Sit down and let the sand run through your fingers, seeing all the tiny grains that look like thousands of microscopic rocks. Investigate the pools and watch the crabs and sand fleas going about their business. Feel the texture of the seaweed, study the different patterns on all the seashells and poke about in the detritus that gathers at the tide line.
It’s no fun being stuck for ideas when your art is such an integral part of your sense of self. It’s like a hand suddenly refusing to work, or one eye going blind for no reason. Try some or all of the suggestions made here and see if there’s a way of breaking through the block that works for you, but be reassured by knowing that you will get through to the other side and will be the stronger for it.