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How to Break the Barriers of Creative Block

As a writer and a journalism student, creativity is needed on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s thinking of article ideas to pitch or a subject to photograph, I’d like to think that I have my fair share in creative thinking. A lot of the time, though, I find myself bored with my usual writing style or struggling to come up with new ideas. 

That’s what’s known as creative block, something all artistic minds are familiar with. Plus, being a member of Her Campus and side by side with girls of all different side hustles, from YouTube channels and blogs to art pages, I’m sure it’s a common occurrence for most content creators. After all, it takes time and effort to churn out genuinely good work, especially if there’s passion going into it.

We always find an idea that comes to us in one way or another. This doesn’t make creative block any less frustrating though, especially when you’re on deadline or pride yourself on effortless inspiration. At the end of the day, it really comes down to how you get the creativity flowing so you’re not only able to hop into the actual process of content creating, but also able to feel confident that it’s a unique, meaningful idea. Here are some ways to do exactly that and break down the barriers of creative block:

1. Pay Attention to What’s on Your Mind

The ideas that come automatically to me are always the ones that stem from what has currently been dominating my thoughts and time. Sometimes it’s fitness. Sometimes it’s prayer. Sometimes it’s a new show I’ve really been enjoying. That’s why you’ll find that a lot of the articles I put out are centered around mental health, lifestyle and entertainment.

Take inspiration from what’s been on your mind lately, and find a way to turn it into art. Art serves as a way for the writer, the photographer, the painter or whatever type of content creator you may be to express your feelings and document what you were experiencing at a certain time in life.

2. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Once you’ve used up all the ideas you already had, the real work starts when you’re forced to step out of your comfort zone to break the creative block. If you’re used to creating pieces that are usually limited to a certain area, switch it up! Don’t hold yourself back from exploring other options and ways of executing your visions.

For example, click on my Her Campus profile (no, you really should - you won’t regret it), and you’ll find that most of my work falls under the lifestyle category. Our lifestyle editor (shoutout to Maria) probably knows all about my religion, all about my advice on leadership, all about my beliefs on attracting blessings and much more because of how many articles of mine she has gone through. If you find that you’re having a hard time coming up with ideas that align with your usual modus operandi, find a new one! Go for something related to a completely different aspect of life, like news or fashion! If you’re used to using one medium, try out another. Switch out graphite pencils for watercolors. Do anything outside of your norm and see how it feels or where it leads.

3. Seek Out Sources of Inspiration

This is one of the rare cases where social media is your best friend. A few minutes of scrolling through topics related to your art form on Pinterest or Instagram may be all you need to have that “A-ha!” moment. Let’s not forget, fashion is a form of art that requires a lot of creativity too, and where do a lot of people turn to for fashion inspo? Pinterest! Who knows how it might help you too.

4. Let It Come to You

The Type-A personality in me rejects this idea over and over again, but sometimes you just have to let the ideas come to you. So in the meantime, occupy yourself. Get busy with other work, throw on a show, blast some music and let your thoughts run wild. An idea waiting to be realized might be hidden somewhere in there. Another approach would be to meditate or sit in silence, waiting for a creative thought to breakthrough.

5. Change Your Scenery

Nothing works better for me than a change in location. Simply moving from my mom’s room to my room, to the living room puts me in three completely different moods, and therefore completely different tracks of thought, in the span of ten minutes. Getting out of the house is always great for finding inspiration too. A quick walk outside could work wonders.

6. Sleep On It

We all know how it feels to feel absolutely fried and unable to think about anything other than how exhausted or drained you are. A good habit is to know when to give yourself a break. When your mind is refreshed and ready to work again in the morning or after a nap, you won’t feel as clouded or unable to process new thoughts and ideas.

7. Think of an Idea and Run With It

Still not feeling creative? Still don’t know what you’re going for? Take the first few ideas that pop into your head, choose one and run with it. Writer Anne Lamott came out with a lesson on “Sh!tty First Drafts,” which advises writers to get absolutely anything down on paper, no matter how terrible it might be. Afterward, go back in and make revisions until you’re happy with it. Do the same for whatever you may be struggling with and watch how you fall in love with the idea or how new ideas find their way to you. 

Most importantly, remember that you’ve likely had creative blocks on most of the projects you’ve ever executed! Have confidence in yourself that you’ll finish strong just like you have before!

Megan Lim

Montclair '23

Megan is currently a sophomore at Montclair State University, majoring in Journalism and minoring in Social Work. Not only does she aspire to be the best writer she can possibly be, but she hopes to be the best version of herself there is at all! Whether that means getting good grades, helping those around her, getting involved, working out, or letting herself binge watch movies - she wants to do it all. Anything that has to do with self-growth, she's doing it!
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