Inspiring the Creative Block: An Anthology

Inspiration comes in waves but not without a stab at this list.

Unexpected, ambiguous and potentially deadly, the creative block is an enemy every artist knows all too well. Oddly enough, I’m battling the very demon as I’m writing this (and have been for the past month). I’ve learned that although ‘consistency is key’, change is what’s needed to succeed.

1.) Travel

Throw yourself into a place you’ve never been to before. Open your eyes to new faces, new food and a new culture. Get lost. Avoid maps and explore the road less traveled.

You’ll be surprised how different the world will seem when you return home.

I booked a ticket to Oregon for a week. It was a trip of firsts: first time flying with a significant other, first time paying for a ticket with my own money, and my first time trying fried chicken and waffles. Because of that, everything was new to me. I was in awe of every nook and cranny and fell in love with the differences Portland had to offer compared to LA.

That awe, the wonder, the lust to feel those things; all of that is very special. You will never experience those things unless you drop everything and travel.

2.) Get a haircut
(or be more adventurous with your ‘do)

Remember when Mulan chopped her hair off with her father’s sword before running away to disguise herself as a man in the Chinese army?

 Do that.
Or don’t if you’re afraid of commitment, but when you look good, you feel good.

I remember when I was six years-old watching that scene and mirrored Mulan when she cut her hair, but with safety scissors. Fast forward to now and I finally committed to a shorter mane. I may not be defeating the Huns, but I definitely feel like it.

Chopping the hair has been a symbol of forgetting the past, leaving baggage behind and maturity. I didn’t think I had any emotional luggage. Hell, I could hardly fit a week’s worth of wardrobe into just one. However, I did learn that making a chop can be just as rejuvenating and empowering as starting a juice detox.

 3.) Surround yourself with people you love or haven’t seen in a while

Rekindle your friendships. Make time for the people who support you. Stop using ‘busy’ as an excuse and surround yourself with good energy.

Sometimes dinner with an old friend or playing board games with your family can really put you in the moment; something that is rare when you’re sucked into documenting every day of your life.

 Trust me, there is nothing more fulfilling than having people around that are still excited to see you. There will be a day when people will stop hugging you and people won’t jump and scream the moment you walk in.

So make it count.

4.) Take a break

This seems like common sense but really; it works. Not to mention, it’s 100% organic.

Take a break; long or short. Spend a day without your phone and fully immerse yourself in the moment. Experiences aren’t really experiences if your mind is traveling elsewhere.

 Take a step back from your work, even if it means doing so for a few days. Coming back to your project with a clearer mind can give a new perspective or trigger new ideas for creating something new or continuing your works in progress.

 I do this all the time; shamefully enough, and even stepped away from the virtual realm when away on vacation. Why did I spend this much money if I’m going to be on my phone the whole time?

Life is meant to be enjoyed.

5.) Do something for the first time
(or first time in a long time)

Excite yourself and challenge your boundaries by taking on something new. This could be a hobby, trying a new recipe, or doing something completely foreign for you.

 In my case, that was hiking a waterfall via a mile incline 800+ ft in the air. I’ve kept myself from doing activities on unsteady ground since I injured my ankle and knee freshman year of college but I did it anyway. I was unprepared, sore, stopped often and was constantly out of breath but when I made it to the top, it wasn’t the view that was rewarding, but knowing that I kept pushing myself even when I doubted myself often and wanted to turn around.

Stepping out of your bounds reestablishes your confidence and your perspective of yourself and how you can achieve things. You can’t feel unstoppable doing the same thing over and over again.

Reinvigorate yourself.

6.) Change up your routine

I never thought I had to take exercise and healthy living seriously with the metabolism I used to have. Upon gaining weight, that changed everything and I immediately went on a health kick. I subsituted coffee cravings for pressed juice and indulged in Blogilates videos and sneaking into the YMCA for their treadmills and elliptical.

Living better for myself was rewarding. I felt more energetic, healthier and happier, especially because I was meeting weekly to daily goals on my journey of wellness. I resisted temptations, whether that was food choices or bad work habits, and doubled my productivity.

 Adding something new to your daily routine or even adjusting to a set time dedicated to improving yourself can reflect outwardly in other aspects of your life. It doesn’t have to be fitness related. It can be reading more, taking walks, or meditating.

 Give yourself something to look forward to. When you have a goal you want to achieve and gain the momentum to reach it every day, laziness becomes a thing of the past and what used to be bigger mountains to climb will seem much smaller.

Although creative blocks can drag you down, sometimes pushing through them is your best option. Inspiration doesn’t come to you. You must go seek inspiration yourself.

Good luck.

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Photography by Justin Quebral

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