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Erika Firm
Creative Business Featured

9 Things To Do During A Creative Block

Artist and designer Erika Firm's art studio at her home on Johns Island, South Carolina. Photo by Elizabeth Ervin

One of the greatest joys of being an artist is also one of the greatest fears: the BLANK PAGE. Sometimes ideas just fall onto the page. Sometimes it’s a struggle. Lately, I’ve been feeling burned out, tired of designing All Christmas All The Time. I’ve been struggling.

My usual go to during a period of creative block (watch a movie) wasn’t sparking any new ideas, and was starting to feel a little sad, lonely, and self-indulgent. So I made a list of 9 things I could do to help bust through creative slump. These may not always get me out of a creative block, but they at least get me doing something productive.

  1. Do Something Else “Creative” — style some photos of my work to use in my portfolio or social media, take some “behind the scenes” photos of my studio, or switch to a totally different media (i.e. watercolor some basic backgrounds if I’ve been on the computer all day, or mock up a client’s project on the computer if I’ve been drawing all day).
  2. Make a Master List — You know, the reeeeeeallly long to do list. Get it all out of my head. I don’t think, I just write it all out. A brain dump, if you will. Then I go back and sort/organize it and add important stuff to my calendar.
  3. Do Something Boring but Necessary — I go to that list, or my calendar, and find something that really needs to be done … usually something mundane like drive to the Post Office and pick up a package, or pick up cat food.
  4. Do Something Completely Mindless — Clean out a desk drawer or dust or organize something by color (“rainbowthetically” as my wiser-than-her-seven-years friend Parker calls it). The goal is to do something that I don’t have to think about much. Usually in silence — all devices, radio, tvs, etc OFF!
  5. Take a Skillshare Class — I have dozens bookmarked. When I’m feeling particularly blocked, I focus on technical classes about programs or marketing/business classes, not on artistic technique.
  6. Vote at Minted — There’s almost always a challenge open for voting. It’s fun, and sometimes I get a fun color combo idea.
  7. Take a Walk — Getting outside almost always works for me.
  8. Visit a Museum — I love the Gibbes Museum here in Charleston. Even for a quick 30 minute visit. I don’t bring a sketch book, I just wander.
  9. Read a Magazine — There’s nothing quite like print. I have loads of tear sheets that I keep in a folder by my art desk. I’ll read just about any magazine. Even ones written in languages I can’t understand.

Lately I’ve tried allllll these things to help get me out of my creative slump. I can’t say I’m completely unblocked yet. But I’m moving in the right direction. Forward is a pace.

Lovely photo by Elizabeth Ervin.

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