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Using Confidence to Kill a Creativity Block

“How do you become more creative?” can be an extremely tricky question to answer. For some people, inspiration only comes at 3 a.m. in a dark bedroom while others create with a cup of coffee early in the morning. Whether you are a visual artist, musical artist or writer, creative blocks occasionally haunt all of us. For a few days or even weeks, it seems as if every picture has already been painted, every story has already been told, and there’s no such thing as an original idea left. While it’s pretty common to experience this feeling once in a while, it can become a more serious barrier to our work if we don’t learn how to keep it under control. 

Since childhood, I’ve always had a deep love for creating art, and throughout this journey, I’ve made drawings, paintings and digital art. Finally, I decided to turn my passion for creativity into my career choice of media production. However, in recent years, I’ve noticed a key change in the way I perceive my own work. In just a couple of quick years, my art went from something I was extremely proud of to something that was just never good enough. The ideas no longer seemed as creative, the process was exhausting and the results didn’t impress me anymore. Slowly, the hobby of making art turned into a chore. 

In search of what was causing this sudden drain in my creativity and passion, an 18-year-old me turned to an eight-year-old me for advice. The eight-year-old me could come up with hundreds of ideas and never feel burnt out; she was the one who accidentally discovered finger-painting when she couldn’t find her brushes. I realized there was a significant change in my mindset and how I perceived the process of making art as I got older. And so, I took inspiration from the younger me who had mastered a positive relationship with my hobbies and came up with a rule to keep that inner child alive.

This rule is what I call expression over expectation. I noticed that as I got older, I started to set a certain standard for myself. I wanted every piece of art I created to be completely different from my past work; more creative and somehow more “impressive.” No longer was I creating to express what I love or find inspiration. Instead, I was creating what would look best on my portfolio, what would get me a graphic design job or simply what would allow me to impress people around me. This ever-increasing standard shifted my perspective from viewing art as fun to viewing it as a mandatory assignment. 

As artists, I think some of us need to constantly remind ourselves that the purpose of art is to nurture our passion, release our emotions, and overall, be a form of fuel for our spirit. If we find that it’s doing the opposite and draining our drive to create, there needs to be a re-evaluation of the purpose behind the creation. 

Despite having expression over expectation as a motto, it can often be hard to follow as an adult who has chosen art and creativity as her career. I’ll always have to bend to the needs of an assignment, portfolio or client. However, I do like to take out some time to create some “purposeless” but fulfilling art. Not only has it become a great technique to revive my love for my once favourite hobby, but it’s also one of my favourite forms of self-care!

However, no creative journey is this simple and linear. When breaking this old pattern, it’s easy to create a lot of art you will most likely hate. You might step out of your comfort zone and try a new medium only to realize you’re much worse at it than you thought. Or you’ll really love an idea and then realize it’s all over Google Images. My advice to any creator is to do it anyway!

Be proud of your ‘bad’ art – the kind that doesn’t make it into your all-time favourite pieces. 

In fact, this kind of art is great for freely expressing whatever is on your mind without worrying about whether it satisfies anyone else’s requirements. As well, this practice is essential to fuel your creativity, experiment with new styles, and even become a source of inspiration for your next big piece! Every time I run out of ideas, I refer to my “pile of trash art” to piece together some motifs and symbolism for my exciting new project.  

My personal mantras of prioritizing personal expression and appreciating my failed attempts have greatly helped me break old patterns, including fear of imperfection and frustratingly high standards. I hope they apply for anybody who loves to express themselves in the form of writing, painting, singing, dancing and beyond. To all my creatives out there: keep creating, and whether you love it or hate it, all of your art is equally valuable! 

Myra Rahim

Ryerson '23

I’m Myra, a 3rd year Media Production student at Ryerson, and in my second year of contributing to HerCampus! I drink way too much coffee, stay up till 3am every night without fail, can’t function without my headphones and have a passion for making people laugh! In my spare time you’ll find me being lost in downtown Toronto with my friends, expressing my love for Beyonce when no-one asked, or huffing and puffing through another Youtube workout. I’m super excited to share my articles with everyone, hope you enjoy <3
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