7 Types of Creative Block

(And what to do about them)

"For a creative professional, a creative block isn’t just frustrating — it’s potentially career-damaging. When you rely on your creativity to pay the bills and build your reputation, you can’t afford to be short of ideas or the energy to put them into action."


1. The mental block.

This is where you get trapped by your own thinking. You’re so locked into a familiar way of looking at the world that you fail to see other options.

Solution: You need to change your mind. Question your assumptions, ask yourself “What if…?”, and adopt different perspectives.

2. The emotional barrier.

Creativity can be intense. It’s not a comfortable pursuit. Faced with the unknown, you may be scared of what you’ll discover or reveal about yourself.

Solution: You need to face the worst and come through the other side. There are plenty of things that can help — such as routine, commitment, and meditation.

3. Work habits that don’t work.

Maybe there’s no great drama — you’re just trying to work in a way that isn’t compatible with your creative process. You work too early, too late, too long, or not long enough. You try to hard or not hard enough.

Solution: Step back and take a good look at how you’re working, and where the pain points are. If it’s email, learn a new system for dealing with email. If you don’t have enough energy, are you working at the right time of day?

4. Personal problems.

Creativity demands focus — and it’s hard to concentrate if you’re getting divorced/ dealing with toddlers/battling an addiction/falling out with your best friend/grieving someone special/moving house/locked in a dispute with a neighbor.

Solution: There are basically two ways to approach a personal problem that is interfering with your creative work — either solve the problem or find ways of coping until it passes.

5. Poverty.

I’m not just talking about money, although a lack of cash is a perennial problem for creatives. You could also be time-poor, knowledge-poor, have a threadbare network, or be short of equipment or other things you need to get the job done.

Solution: There are basically two ways to approach a personal problem that is interfering with your creative work — either solve the problem or find ways of coping until it passes.

6. Overwhelm.

Sometimes a block comes from having too much, not too little. You’ve taken on too many commitments, you have too many great ideas, or you’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume of incoming demands and information.

Solution: It’s time to cut down. If you take on too many commitments, start saying ‘no’. If you have too many ideas, execute a few and put the rest in a folder labeled ‘backburner’.

7. Communication breakdown.

Creative blocks can happen between people as well as between the ears. If you work in a team, tensions are inevitable, and can make it hard to do your best work

Solution: This is where creativity blends into communication skills. You need to be adept at understanding and influencing the right people, however difficult or mystifying they may be.

Read the full article by Mark McGuinness over at 99u.com