9 Ways to Overcome Mental Blocks!

Improve Creative Thinking

Overcome Mental Blocks and Improve Creative Thinking: A 101 Guide for Entrepreneurs, Graphic Designers, Photographers, and Artists

As an artist, entrepreneur or graphic designer you are expected to have this “Creative Thing” going on all the time. You are brilliant, artistic… and can come up with FANTASTIC ideas at the drop of a hat. Oh, what a wonderful world it would if this were always true! We would all love to instantly be about to improve creative thinking and come up with that great work.  In reality, you sit there – staring at the blank wall, just as long, if not more so than anyone else. Where is that special creative thinking you are supposed to have? It so as just isn’t readily available.

Don’t worry! You are not alone in your industry. We have all experienced those mental blocks that prevent us from being creative.  It does not matter what we call it: creative block or simply “Where is my inspiration when I need it?” All creatives come to a total BLANK WALL at some point in their career – and no matter how many coffee or stand up breaks we take, however, we just get stuck in the mental block, that place where there are NO great ideas. How do you improve creative thinking?


What Do You Do?

Take note of these 9 ways to overcome mental blocks as well as to improve your creative thinking.  It’s a list you can refer to whenever you feel that blank slate sliding down over your highly creative mind.

1. Getting Started Is, At Times, Tricky

With some projects, it just takes time to get started. With others, things go smoothly, but then all of a sudden, something happens and things come to a total stop. This is a problem and it means you have a creative block. Don’t worry! This affects almost everyone who works in the creative industry. But you have ambition. You have the stuff to do, you have to deliver the work on a certain day and on time. What are you supposed to do?

Sometimes, the hardest part of a project so as is just getting started. Don’t pressure yourself to be creative right from the very beginning. If you do, it is no wonder that you find being creative difficult. You have become totally terrified of failure. To get past this, you need to relax. Just remember you don’t necessarily need to create something great right out of the box.

To overcome mental blocks and improve creative thinking, look for patterns in your blank episodes. Keep a notebook handy, and write down the times you may feel that mental block coming on. You may start to notice a trend like it may only happen on Monday.

2. Capture The Excitement At The Onset

When you start a new project get EXCITED about it. You need to think about it all the time, sometimes even in your dreams. This excitement gets the creative juices going, and helps lay the foundation for a successful project. It helps keep you focused.  Towards the middle of the project, you may find that you run into a block that stops you from creating. You can also overcome this mental block by creating a vision board and capturing the idea from the beginning. This way when you get caught in the middle you can look at your vision board for ideas to refer back on.


3. Get It Down On Paper, Now!

A key factor in being able to overcome mental blocks and Improve Creative Thinking is to tap into your subconscious. Strange things happen in a semi-sleep state when your unconscious takes over. Wake up and write down whatever was happening before you forget it.


 Right Tick Write the main idea of what you want to portray down. You can also place it in lists or bullet points. Just jot down everything that comes to mind. You can mix and match the lists for more creative output.
Right Tick  Carry a sketchbook with you where you go. Sit somewhere peaceful and start to draw or jot down a word or phrase you come across in a book or poem.
Right Tick Take notes of your thoughts and about your own life. Try to approach every project from a different angle. In the end, you may not use this information, but it can help get you out of the rut.


4. overcome mental blocks and Improve Creative Thinking by Stepping Away For A Bit

Get away from whatever it is you are doing. Take a break and come back to it with a clear head. However, you always want to come back and finish what you have started. Your idea is not a bad one you just need to see it through and pay attention to the details. Go and do something else entirely.

You would be amazed at where these great ideas come from. It can be the way the bathroom faucet looks under a certain light, the way a tree sways in the wind, or a certain way a building looks if you stare at it from another angle. Ideas can be lurking around everywhere, and they are often where you least expect them. Grab some “you” time”, Working on too many projects at once can stifle your creativity. If you are feeling tired and frustrated, take some time off to turn things around. Get out, go to a movie, read something interesting, go visit an art museum, meet a friend. Just do anything that relaxes your mind. I find that once you step away from the project, you become more illuminated when you see it again.

Sleep on it when you can. You can’t force creativity to flow and sometimes you just work too hard. Take a break and recharge your energies.

5. Expect The Unexpected

Sometimes the best way to overcome mental blocks and improve creative thinking  is to let the ideas “Just Flow.” The best ideas don’t need to be sought out at all; you just have to train yourself not to swerve out of the way when they jump out in front of you. Explore other creative disciplines. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Look at other artwork, even fashion, film or the packaging you see in the grocery store can bring on inspiration.

Go with the flow. Try to approach every project with the opposite of what everyone else would do. However, it might not be the direction you choose in the end, but it can help to avoid cliche scenarios.

Redefine the problem to find it more compelling. Ask yourself something like “What if  Obama designed this piece? What would he do differently? Because this is unfamiliar ground, you might get a fresh perspective on the audience’s view of things.


6. Steal Like An Artist!

Try to recreate the work of others that you admire. Try to figure out their process secrets. Analyze the creative process of the artist or writer. Writers love to retell stories they have heard somewhere else. However, musicians use old pieces for inspiration for new ones. It is how we learn, it is how we practice.

“Stealing” – for learning purposes – is a great exercise. This is an age-old method that painters have used for thousands of years. They recreate famous works so as in order to learn the art of painting. Visit art museums and take note of the students who are sitting in front of an exhibit recreating the work of art. There is a purpose in doing this. It helps to bring on creativity.

Find a piece that inspires you – whether that’s a poster design, a well-designed website, or a gorgeous typographic piece – and try recreating it. Often you will find that things are more complex under the surface than they seem, and discovering this is a great way to get past the complexities that may stall you in your original work.

7. Don’t Pretend To Exist In A Vacuum

To overcome mental blocks and improve creative thinking, you can’t live in a vacuum.  However, be a continuous feedback loop. That means continuous input: reading books and blogs, attending talks and conferences, using the medium you design for. You and your work do not exist in a vacuum. However, you are operating at a time in history where the world is more connected than it ever has been before. Take advantage of that. See what others so as in your field or your specific discipline are doing. See what rules they are breaking. What work is recognized as groundbreaking and which is just a rehash of the old ways? This will help you identify where you can stand out and also bring back the originality to your own work.

Being creative is supposed to fun, and also sometimes we can all take it a bit too seriously. At those moments when you hit that creative block, try stepping away from it for a few minutes. Do something else that is so as creative. Try painting, drawing or even writing a poem. However, sometimes when you step away and do something fun, you learn to see things in a new creative light.

Seek out constructive criticism from others. This one is also really important to me. Everyone has an opinion and sometimes they can also be good, but even the bad ones can count. So when I get stuck, I try to get ideas from the people that surround me. I may not agree with the feedback but it certainly helps to keep me on my toes.

8. Get Squeaky Clean

When I have a creative block there is definitely a first step that I take; U get squeaky clean.

  1. Yes. I step into the shower for a long hot one. The water cleans my mind and helps me think differently. It’s so as if it washes away the negativity.
  2. Tidy up. Yes, I clean my desk and my PC. I just can’t think clearly about everything is a mess.
  3. If I am still having a problem, I go to the park and try to avoid thinking about the project altogether.

9. Consider Going Out In Public

Even if you like to go out to the coffee shop to work, and even when you also enjoy working when everything is happening around you. When you have creativity issues, you might be better off working in a more minimal environment. Move to a quiet area and declutter your mind.

In The End…

Learning to overcome mental blocks and improve creative thinking is so as really a trial and error process. Truth is –  you will work a lot and much of your work may be sub-par before you consistently put out creative work.  The best way to overcome creative block is by understanding the dedication required to be successful, and committing yourself to always improving.  For creative ideas, check out our Business Signs.

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Brandon Stapper
Brandon Stapper is an entrepreneur and investor. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Nonstop Signs, an industry leading graphic design, print, and sign business with multiple locations throughout the United States. At 20 years old, with no formal education and only a few hundred dollars, Stapper turned a $400 custom decal machine in a garage into an international printing powerhouse focused on helping businesses improve their marketing and branding with everything from retail signage to packaging, to trade show displays.
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