Is creative block holding you back from making art?

What’s holding you back from making your art? If you want to create but it’s not happening, you are not alone. Some things are out of our control and they pull us away from our creative lives. And sometimes we just need a little nudge to get back on track.

Use this guide to figure out your creative block.

On a side note, if you rely on your art to make money, the pressures or deadlines that you face add a new layer to creative blocks. I’m still a fan of small steps though and these tips may support you.

Figure out your why, when and where

Do you remember why you started making art in the first place? If we get pulled away from this creative purpose we can find it hard to keep going. Ask yourself some gentle questions or journal the why, when and where of your art.

  • Why do you make art? What does it do for you or others?
  • Are you making the art you want to make or what you think you should make?
  • What time of day is best for you?
  • Do you need a tidy, organised space or a creative mess to feel inspired?

Are you supporting your “why, when and where”? Figuring out what supports you to create can take a bit of time. Some things you think you need might be unavailable right now. Is there a small thing you can do to get closer to your ideal?

What blocks are you facing?

There are small steps we can take if we feel ready to get back to our art. Here are some thoughts about my own experiences.

I need more time, space or energy

How many times have you said you “don’t have time” or “I would if I had space”? I’ve done it too. These excuses feel like the truth. After all, the artists and makers that we admire have beautiful studios and craft rooms and don’t seem to have other commitments that soak up their days.

Except that part isn’t really true. They too started on the kitchen table and cleared away for meals. Art was made in small snacks of time while the baby slept or after a long day at work. They balanced their energy for art with the rest of their lives, just like you and I do.

Taking little steps, working small and taking a few minutes when we can, will add up to progress and a collection of art.

I’m just stuck, my creative mojo has left the building

Almost all creative people struggle with losing their creative spark at some time. It’s disheartening and can feel like you’ll never make art again.

You might want to keep going or feel like taking a break for a while. (If you are physically and mentally exhausted, pushing through a block may not be helpful. Sometimes we need rest.)

If you want to keep making art, try these ideas:

  • Look at something you have made that you liked. Reassure yourself of your abilities. Recreate something old.
  • Feed your mind something new. Another artist, a walk outside or a good book might spark your creative ideas.
  • Play with no expectations or deliberately make a mess.
  • Chat or meet up with a creative friend.
  • Take a course or follow a tutorial to get your hands moving again.

Small, realistic goals can be helpful. If you need rest, set yourself a clear time out. Be gentle with yourself.

Perfectionism and procrastination

This is the jackpot of creative blocks, the need to create the incredible piece of art that’s in our head, with no room for mistakes. We fear we aren’t up to the task and cannot bear to create something that isn’t perfectly successful.

Not to mention that any “bad” art feels like evidence that we shouldn’t be making art at all. Then we get frozen and make nothing.

There’s no quick fix for the inner critic and there’s lots of advice out there for tackling perfectionism. Making messy mistakes and bad art are part of the process of learning, they are essential.

I like this quote from Neil Gaiman’s book, Make Good Art.

“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.”
― Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art

Just start.

I don’t want to waste supplies

Do you ever feel like you don’t want to waste your supplies on trying new things or making something “bad”? It’s that critical voice again.

Artists and makers have learned how to make good art by making a lot of experiments, mistakes and messes. Using your supplies to learn how to make better art is not waste, it’s progress.

I remind myself often that no matter how much they cost, wasted supplies are the ones sat on the shelf, becoming unusable while I was saving them for best.

I want to try everything but then I get nowhere

Sometimes I’m full of ideas and juggle many projects. This can mean I skip between lots of things, spending my creative time researching, making plans and not creating anything.

You don’t have to drop all your ideas but too much freedom can lead to overwhelm, procrastination or paralysis.

I like to identify one main project to focus on to the end and keep one or two others running alongside for when I need to variety. Meanwhile, I keep notes for other projects for later. If other things creep in, I can get lost again!

Choose something achievable and see it through to the results. If your other ideas are still good, they’ll wait for you.

I’m just too tired and overwhelmed

At some point every one of us feels the kind of tired that stops us in our tracks. Maybe we have physical or mental health issues, our to-do list is endless or we feel completely overwhelmed. Perhaps art used to be the thing that helped us feel better and we’re not able to do it.

This is a real struggle and it’s true that sometimes we just have to let go of our art for a while. In this case I hope you can be kind to yourself and stay connected to art in other ways.

Put art you have made around your home, stay in touch with creative friends or take quick phone photos of things that inspire you. Keep the thread tied to your art at one end so you can find your way back later.

I don’t know how

Lastly, the one I have heard the most as a Powertex tutor is “I don’t know how”. Knowing what you want to create but not knowing how to get there can feel like a huge gap.

It’s worth remembering that everyone starts at the beginning. Now it’s easier than ever to get the knowledge you need and get the results you want. Find someone willing to share, take courses, watch videos and have a go.

There are lots of online and real life communities all ready to cheer you on. Let them support and nurture you into making your own art. Personally I have found an amazing community of artists and makers on Instagram. They are always there, cheering me on from the sidelines.

Take small steps

What’s holding you back? Whatever it is,  you are not alone. I hope you can take a small step this week to move towards your art. Maybe you will watch something inspiring or connect with a new creative group. Or maybe you will take the art supplies down from the shelf and try that idea you’ve had for a while. A small idea can develop into a whole series of work.

Come and join me on Instagram in my creative life. Leave me a comment and I’ll come by and see what you’re making.


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