5 Surprising Causes of Creative Block and How to Overcome Them

Most freelancers depend on their creativity for their livelihood. Freelance writers, designers, artists, photographers, and even web developers and programmers all rely on creative thinking to perform their jobs.

However, once in a while a freelancer finds that their creativity (that same creativity they’ve been relying on to earn an income) just isn’t there. The ideas just aren’t flowing like they used to.

Writers call this “writer’s block,” but it actually happens in many different professions.

Naturally, when this happens a freelancer can feel a bit panicked. After all, your income is on the line. You ask yourself, “will this be a permanent problem for me?”

Fortunately for most freelancers, creative block IS a temporary problem. Plus, if you understand some of the causes of creative block, you may be able to overcome it entirely.

In this post, I’ll identify one surprising source of creative block and give you some ideas for overcoming it.


The Surprising Source of Creative Block

You may be surprised at the source of many creative blocks. It’s … you. Or, at least it’s your habits and your practices that you can control.

When it comes to nurturing your creativity, you may actually be your own worst enemy. Bad habits and bad attitudes can crush your creative spirit and cause your well of fresh ideas to dry up.

In the next section, I’ll list some of these bad attitudes and habits and provide you with some practical solutions.

How to Overcome Your Creative Block

Are you going through a creative dry spell? Here are five creativity busters and some practical tips for overcoming them:

  1. Fear–Fear is a common problem for freelancers. There’s fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of failure, and many types of fear. For a creative freelancer, there can also be the fear of trying something new. Fear can certainly cause creative paralysis. One of the best ways to overcome it is to give yourself permission to face the fear head on. Once you identify the fear that’s paralyzing you, tell yourself it’s okay if the fear comes to pass. Write this permission down if you have to and refer to it often. Then, proceed to act in the face of your fear.
  2. Perfectionism–Are your creations never quite good enough? Do you have trouble feeling that a project is really complete? Are clients happy with your work even though it never seems quite good enough to you? If this is you, you may be suffering from perfectionist tendencies. If so, you’re not alone. Many creative people are perfectionists. One trick for combating perfectionism is to ask yourself if you would be this hard on someone else. Often, the answer is “no.” You should be at least as reasonable with yourself as you would be with another person.
  3. Busy-ness–Overscheduling your time with too many projects might seem like a good moneymaking strategy when you’re a freelancer, but in the end it can leave you feeling burnt out. This is because most creative people need time to process their ideas and they also need exposure to the outside world for inspiration. When you over schedule yourself you eliminate both processing time and inspiration. To overcome this problem, incorporate a regular block of time that isn’t assigned to a project in your weekly schedule. Use this time to process ideas, find inspiration, or just rest.
  4. Procrastination–In many ways, this is the opposite of busy-ness. If you have a problem with putting projects off you may find that the quality of your creative work suffers. While a few freelancers do thrive under deadline pressure, the most creative work is usually not done at the very last minute. Tackle your procrastination by creating a workable schedule with plenty of breaks. Also, examine your attitudes closely to make sure that the root cause of your procrastination is not really the problem of fear or perfectionism.
  5. Health–Not taking care of your health is a bad idea in many ways, but when you’re a freelancer bad health habits actually threaten your ability to earn a living. Let’s face it. No one performs well on a diet of junk food or after only a few hours of sleep. If you get sick, your freelancing creativity will take an even bigger hit. To solve this creativity buster, identify your unhealthy habits today. Make healthier living (exercising, eating right, getting enough sleep, and regular checkups) a part of your routine. It’s best to avoid as many health problems as you can.

Another tactic that can help you overcome the bad habits that stifle creativity is to find an accountability partner who can encourage you while holding you accountable to your goals.

(Note: The tips here work for many freelancers. However, if a situation persists it may be necessary to consult a mental health professional or your personal physician.)

More on Creativity

Here are some other resources on creativity from Freelance Folder:

Your Turn

Have you struggled with creative blog and overcome it?

Share your tips in the comments.

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