The biggest challenge that comes from being a creative person is encountering the mental block. A mental block is when your brain refuses to produce any ideas or content that will contribute to your current work. Whether you are a writer, editor, artist, singer, or even performer, you may have experienced multiple mental blocks in your career. They are inevitable and occur to everyone, so you should not feel bad if they happen to you. If anything, if you don’t encounter some type of mental or creative block at some point in your life then you are doing something wrong.
As a writer, I suffer from these blocks all of the time and the main reason is that I have high expectations for the work that I produce. Whether this level of perfectionism comes from school or my upbringing, it can be hard for me to create certain things because I constantly feel that it is not good enough. Good enough for who, I don’t know but it is an issue that pervades my mind. It has prevented me from producing and finishing multiple pieces of work (stories, poems, even articles) because I allow myself to get in my own way. If anyone has the solution to not being your own worst critic, please let me know.
What I have learned over time about managing mental blocks is that ultimately, you have to just accept them. Like with any hurdle or challenge in life, the best way to get through a mental block is to take it in, accept it, and figure out how you are going to move past it. For me, the best way to get through a mental block is to just take a break from what I am doing and focus my attention on something else. I catch myself trying to do multiple things at once and it usually ends in failure and high levels of stress as I try to balance everything. If there is one thing that I know about myself, it’s that I am not a multi-tasker. I usually have to step away from whatever is constricting me and go on a walk. Getting outside clears my head and refreshes my brain so that I can come back to the project with a new mindset.
Something that I would not advise anyone to do when dealing with a mental block is forcing productivity. We all need a break, no matter how long or short it is. Human beings are not designed to work 24/7 as we need proper rest, self-care, and most importantly, to spend time with others. So if you are struggling creatively to produce something, maybe you just need to give yourself some time off. Whether you spend your time cooking for others, playing with your animals, or even calling friends, giving yourself time to relax and focus on anything unrelated to work will help you get back in the swing of things.
We are all different so what may work for me, might not work for you and vice versa. There is no shame in having mental blocks or struggling to be creative as it is normal. It is bound to happen to everyone at some point and it only shows that as an artist, you are growing. Some of my best work has come from working through mental blocks and giving myself adequate time to rest and take care of myself. So, as I finish this article I will soon go back to my hole aka my bedroom and become mentally stuck for the next two weeks or so.