How to overcome mental blockages

breakthrough-100-proven-strategies-to-overcome-creative-block-and-spark-your-imaginationWhat do you do when you get stuck in a rut?

When you are not sure how to progress forward with a project it’s easy to procrastinate or even worse give up in frustration.

The automatic habit for many of us is to go on Facebook and get screen sucked: aimlessly surfing the Internet to distract ourselves from the problem.

But armed with the right strategies you can be an unstoppable force and boost your outputs.

The book “Breakthrough! : 90 proven strategies to overcome creative block and spark your imagination” by Alex Cornell contains loads of great ideas that creative types (e.g. artists and designers) use to push through mental blocks.

As I read the book, it dawned on me that a lot of the strategies could be used to help all of us when we hit a wall and start thinking “It’s too hard!” and “I can’t do it!”

Listed below are five strategies to bust through any mental blockage.

Get away from the computer

Illustrator Marc Johns advises us to ‘step away from the internet’ when we are stuck. He states –

“Put away the laptop, the tablet, the smart phone. Access to too much information and too many digital tools and resources can take you off track too easily. Try pen and paper. It forces you to focus on the basics, on simple solutions”.

It can help to leave you house altogether which brings me to…

Change your location

Changing your usual work environment can help to clear your head.

Take your pick: A nice café, library or the outdoors. Any of these will do.

As Blake Whitman says-

“Changing my location literally helps me to get out of the negative or unproductive space I sometimes find myself in. My most creative moments occur when I can immerse myself in the outdoors and get lost in its beauty”.

Clean your workspace

If your house and/or workspace are a mess, don’t expect to generate your best work. Being surrounded by clutter makes it hard to focus on what you need to do. You also won’t feel very good in your space.

Many creative people say they spend some time tidying their offices so things feel more orderly and they feel more in control of what they need to do.

For instance, Nancy Sharon Collins states –

“A full day doing nothing but organizing and cleaning the studio always provides fresh perspective. Even just sweeping the floor helps”

So grab a box and get rid of anything that you no longer need in your space. If it no longer inspires you, out it goes!

Keep at it

There’s a possibility that if you resist the urge to log onto Facebook and you just keep plugging away at your work for a little bit longer you will strike gold.

Artist Chuck Anderson states –

“There have been times when I’ve just sat there doing something over and over in different ways, scrapping every idea in frustration, until I finally made that one right pencil stroke, took that one photo with the right angle, chose a slightly different shade of the same colour – until finally everything comes together absolutely perfectly, effectively giving you a big, fat middle finger to the rut behind you”

Other people suggest getting something down on paper, even if it’s not very good. “Something is better than nothing. It’s okay to fail” says Dan Kenneally.

Go to the movies

Have you ever gone to the movies and then come out feeling refreshed?

This strategy is used as a last resort after you’ve tried all the other strategies listed above. You have to feel really stuck and at a low point with your work before you utilise it (otherwise, let’s face it, you’re just procrastinating!).

Artist Kyle Bean states this about going to the movies to overcome creative blocks –

“There is something about being in a darkened room that forces me to stop worrying and totally become involved with the story that is unfolding on the screen. I usually feel very refreshed, like someone has reset my brain, which inspires me to start thinking about my project again”

Of course, this strategy may seriously backfire if you select a terrible movie so do your research on IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes to get a sense if it’s going to be worth 2-3 hours of your life.

So next time you find yourself thinking “I can’t do it!”, step away from the computer and do one of the following: clean, get out of the house or go watch a movie.