Tips for Creative Blocks

For these past several weeks (and several weeks to come) I have been working on a series of projects that are things I've always wanted to do. However this has also meant that I've had to take a break from regularly scheduled youtube exhibitions. But time away to work on personal and commercial projects has been good for me. This change has me on a schedule, but this way I get to be around others who share my passions instead of the zen-like experience of spinning 40 hours of work into three minutes of video.

As good as this experience has been so far, it still came with two week's worth of creative block. During this two week period, I managed to get back on track and am finally creating again. Below is a list of advice and exercises to be used to combat creative block. This comes from my own personal experience and some of these may not work for you, but you might as well try them out. Hey, if you're stuck bad enough you'll try anything.

1) INFLUENCE MAP

Last year I posted my very first influence map. This is a device that helps you crystalize your inspirations in a single diagram. I truly believe that this exercise will help anyone with an artistic bent, focus and examine what other works inform their own. Recently I was besieged by a bout of creative block and worked up another influence map for 2012. These maps are too small to explore every facet of my creative taste of course, but can give me a slice of what I'm thinking about at that time. As I've mentioned before, I highly recommend this exercise if your stuck.

2) GAMING

Another pastime that I find myself discovering recently is gaming. I am currently running a game of D&D and find myself loving every minute of it. I know you've been told that D&D is for nerds, but running this game has given me the chance to look at storytelling, character and narrative from a different angle. However, D&D is quite the investment of both time and money if you simply want to stimulate yourself creatively. For those of you who are uninterested in a long form game, I highly reccommend these two:

The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen This game is a storytelling game pure and simple. You just tell stories. Excellent improv exercise, made even better if everyone has a good meal and one or two drinks in them.

Gloom This card game has references to Edward Gorey and Charles Addams. Simple to learn and with each successive card played, it forces you to think about the characters and events-and spin a verbal narrative around gameplay. I can't recommend this one enough.

3) GO OUT WITH FRIENDS

If you're a creative type that's used to working alone, it's tough to pry yourself from the comfort of your spider hole. DO IT! Going outside will give you much needed sunlight and fresh air, but it will also give you the experience of living outside your head. Stories are made from personal experiences. Period. No one makes art in a vacuum.

4) LOOK AT A DIFFERENT KINDS OF ART

It doesn't matter what your medium is, drawing inspiration from a different discipline can stimulate wonderful ideas. I'm no painter, but looking at art books often helps me creatively. If I find a piece that really strikes me, I'll find myself creating a narrative that surrounds that work.

5) EXERCISE

You don't have to bench 300 pounds, but perhaps a simple walk in the park will provide you with a physical outlet to help support your mental one. Plus things like dancing and yoga are a great way to meet new people and get new experiences that you can channel into your work. Artists have to have something to say. This 'something to say" is drawn from life experiences. If you have no new experiences, you have nothing to say. If you have nothing to say, you're dead in the water.

6) ASK FOR CRITICISM

Talk to a few of the people you trust most about your past work and what you're currently stuck on. Ask for honest opinions and even inquire about solutions to your current predicament. These friends or colleagues can provide you with a fresh perspective and help you along with ideas you never would have thought of on your own. You may not always agree with what they have to say, but you obviously trust them enough to ask for their help, so at least listen.

I hope this list helps some of you out there who are stuck on a project. Also, I'd be delighted to hear what works for you. Drop me a line via email or Facebook and let me know.

-Rob Out.