Three Top Tips to Help You Overcome Creative Blocks
Sometimes it’s really hard to create content. Really, it’s most of the time if we’re being honest. We’ve all been there, sitting and staring at a blank page, or a camera, or whatever your medium of choice is. If you’re stuck creatively, it can be so tempting to throw your hands into the air and go look at videos of puppies instead.
But it’s so important to keep producing content, because producing content is how you build up a library of work, and how you get better at what you do. There is no easy answer to a creative block but I’ve come up with a few things to remind myself of when I’m feeling creatively constipated, and I’m sharing them with all of you.
One: Keep Your Production Rhythm Up, Even if it Feels Pointless
One of the biggest myths in existence is the myth of the writer who always has to write. Sure, Stephen King and Brandon Sanderson would be writing all day every day even if they didn’t have publishing deals, but that isn’t the case for 99% of people. A lot of people feel if you’re not driven to paint, to write, to make videos all day of every day of your life, you’re not a creative person. That’s not true – content creation is a marathon, not a sprint. Working your brain every day is just as important as working your muscles, to get better at your craft. By pushing yourself even when you feel like there’s nothing to make content about, you get better at ignoring any creative blocks that pop up.
Creating content is about attitude and your willingness to put in the work. It won’t ever be all fun and games or come naturally, at least not until you’ve put in 10,000 hours or so. There are those lucky few that find their passion early, but for the rest of us some days you just don’t want to.
Too bad. Be like Nike and Just Do It. Writers, spend half an hour a day, every day, writing. If you can’t think of what happens next in your novel, write about something else. Artists, set aside time to draw, paint, glue tiny plastic horses into a giant life size horse sculpture, whatever kind art it is that you do. Every tangent you think down gives more opportunities for creativity to hit you, and you’ll always be luckier at thinking of creative answers to problems if you’re actually focused on them.
Two: Realize It’s Okay to Make Crap
In writing, there’s a thing called the ‘SFD’, which stands for shitty first draft. It means when writing a novel, finish a draft of the whole thing before doing any revision. The first draft will always be total shit. By getting the first draft done, you can then edit to make it better. Don’t spend two weeks slaving over the first page, because you might decide it needs to start somewhere completely different once you’re halfway through.
This idea applies to all forms of creation, be it writing, video, audio, or whatever else it is that you do. Nothing you make is going to be perfect right out of the gate. A lot of it will probably never be perfect. Making it in the first place is the important part; once you have a draft that’s vaguely what you want it to be, then focus more on the details.
Being afraid to make bad content is one of the best ways to stop making content. Worrying things will be bad or mediocre makes you less likely to even start trying. You stop creating altogether since nothing is ever truly perfect – everything you make will fall below your expectations.
Make it your goal to create instead. Good and bad are irrelevant – set out to create and create as much as you can. The more you make, the more likely one of those things is great. The time spent is time invested in getting better at your craft, so never be afraid to do crap work.
Three: Have a Plan, But Don’t be Afraid to Deviate From It
I said before that creating every day is important, but equally important is staying flexible and rolling with whatever comes up.
When you find yourself uninterested in the content you planned to work on, don’t give up on the day entirely. Saving your planned project for another time is fine, but don’t let yourself off the creating hook. Instead, find something else you can do. Cut together ten minutes of you and your friends being silly on set, try to make a story out of it. Write an interlude that features a character featured in one line of your novel. Have fun with it, and don’t feel like your content always has to be a part of the bigger picture. Sometimes it’s better to let yourself go where your muse takes you, instead of the other way around.
Our CEO, Kyle Milan, ran into this issue while filming the other day – he had a whole list of ideas for video content, and he didn’t want to talk about any of them. There was still a schedule and plan to stick to, even if he didn’t want to do any of the content ideas we came up with. So we made a video about how annoying creative blocks are, and published that instead. Take your creative block and make it into something you can use, even if it’s not what you expected.
Nothing in this article is truly groundbreaking, but sometimes it’s important to remind yourself why you’re working so hard for what can feel like no return. It’s about getting better, about practice, and more than anything else, it’s about the feeling you get when you finally break through a creative block and know exactly what you want to do and how you want to get there. To do that, we all have to work towards it and sometimes the effort of slogging through is all it takes.