When Creativity is Stuck

Do you ever just stare at the blank page in front of you, seeing spots? Maybe you’re holding a pen or paintbrush. Or maybe your ‘blank page’ is a metaphor for something else. A block of wood uncarved? A spool of untouched wool?

Human creativity comes in an endless array, and everyone’s blank page looks different. But no matter what form it takes, that ‘blank page’ can be torture.

What do you do when creativity grinds to a halt? If I am being honest, my first reaction is usually to pout. But that doesn’t help. So next I ask, why am I stuck?

Often it’s because I’m tired. But sometimes it’s something deeper. When a word surfaces that reminds me of hurt, or other emotions and memories that are uncomfortable, my knee jerk response is to push it away. When I deny the words a place, it stifles my creativity.

Have you ever told the uncomfortable no? That never goes well for me. It becomes a splinter in my foot that throbs and turns red.

I can exhaust myself with emotions that come with writing a difficult piece, though. It’s never a good idea to push too far too soon. Give yourself time when you are dealing with subjects that dredge up a lot of pain.

But the blank page doesn’t always mean I’m denying myself. Have you ever sat there staring in to space? That can be significantly worse than the splinter.

But what does it mean? Like I said, usually for me it’s because I’m tired. But the other times? I have noticed for me it means I haven’t learned the thing I need to fill those blank lines with yet. My brain can’t connect the dots I don’t yet understand.

What can you do if you haven’t learned what you need to create finish your project? An answer will be different for everyone. We should each seek it out.

Sometimes that knowledge isn’t something we find with research, though. It comes with life experience. Interacting with people, animals, nature, and the world. It will also depend on the manner your creativity manifests itself. How a writer finds knowledge looks different from how a sculptor does.

How to know you’re missing the knowledge and not just tired? You might not. When creativity becomes a battle, it’s time to move on. Set what you’re working on aside and do something else. Not forever, but for right now. This can help you determine why you’re stuck.

Go for a walk, chat with a friend, do the dishes, wash the car. Try changing your surroundings for a bit and see what happens. Still stuck? Then work on a different project, be it poem, painting, or anything else. It’s okay to lay it aside. It’s okay to give it a rest and flex some different muscles.

I often flip through my file of unfinished poems, read each one, and asking myself if I have found the word that fits. I pull out a few to focus on that day. But I don’t strain myself until frustration. It’s okay to put it aside until tomorrow.

What if you’re on a deadline? Well, putting it aside for something else doesn’t mean you don’t pick it up the next day. Be honest with yourself if it’s something you can finish alone.

Last bit of advice. Ask for help. My mild dyslexia has me constantly asking for help, be it from my grammar software, or friends and family. I ask the internet countless things a day. I ask surrounding people to tell me there stories and learn from them.

Sometimes the greatest tools in our creativity kit are other people. A friendly conversation can turn the blank page into a project brimming with life and potential.

50 thoughts on “When Creativity is Stuck

  1. I randomly read blogs. Sometimes it becomes a major blessing and sometimes it’s a pretty bad cursing…

    I’m a moon. I go through phases. I went through a phase a few years ago where poetry just started flowing out of me and I had no idea where these words were coming from. Obviously, it’s tapered off. I haven’t really written anything in a while. It doesn’t bother me about the poetry because my mind is busy pondering other things to blog about. In case you didn’t know, my mind is a really busy place… not always organized… sometimes controlled chaos lol..

    Whenever I paint, I’ve learned have a little idea. But just start painting and stop thinking. Once I start thinking, I overthink and make mistakes and the painting goes in the trash. So my help to you is to go with something and just roll with it! See what happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice piece. 🙂

    I can relate to stepping back and not being so hard on ourself and taking a break. Sometimes we place too much pressure on ourselves and need to re-evaluate. If we do this, we really do share who we are and can help others to do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

      • It’s good. Of course there are a few I have read that I don’t connect with as much, but that is personal preference.
        Over all it’s good. There have been a few that I think is really good.
        But I am no poetry editor. I have only been showing people my own stuff for about a year.
        For me it seems on pare with a lot of other poetry I have seen in the online poerty groups I am apart of, who have a similar style to yours.

        I am not qualified to make any kind of deeper analysis of your work though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I’m asking because I value your opinion. And I’m also asking because I just had a discussion with a friend who unfollowed me because of something I said in my post I posted yesterday. Even though I tried to make it personable and encouraging, it was taken differently. I often wonder if my poetry is uplifting or just how odd it makes people feel. I understand 99% of my following is female. So to an extent, I try to gear around that. But, I’ve felt even for a while now that my writing is becoming more of a problem than a blessing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Didn’t really say…

        I’m wondering are my pictures too risqué or whatever… are my words sensual? Or am I even making sense?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I do not find the words from yesterday sensual. The pictures are slightly. If this friend of your is really conservative it could be a turn off. But most of the time something like that means you touched a cord and they were not ready for it for whatever reason.

        I question if connecting with people via a blog is really what you want to do. Your making friends, but they mean more to you then just ‘readers’. You might be taking people following and unfollowing you to personally. Sorry, I might be doing a bad way of making my point clear.

        I won’t change the things I write to protect people… I do not share everyhing I write, becouse atleast for now it’s just for me. Or it doesn’t fit my blog. Don’t change what you share just for other people.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I just wish people would be brutally honest with me. I don’t know if something is a problem or whatever unless someone says something. And I feel like too many people are just being nice because it’s what people do… they don’t want anyone’s feelings hurt.

        There are friends I have on here that I don’t think of as just followers. For some reason I tend to think of some people on here like family.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yep. People not being able to be honest bothers me too. But I don’t really expect it on my blog. If they don’t like what I write, they won’t stick around. If they do, they will. That is the nature of a blog.

        It sounds like your soul is seeking a deeper connection than a blog can give you. That can also scare people because as a whole western society doesn’t do friendships very well any more. (Also no councilor here. So take EVERYTHING I say with a grain of salt.)

        Liked by 2 people

      • I started the blog with no direction and no theme, no nothing… after a while I finally started getting followers and then all of a sudden I felt I had a belonging here. People would tell me how they related with my writing and how it helped them. I’ve made some very awesome friendships on here. I think I started the whole thing of feeling like a wolf pack. I learned that wolves turn nobody away. There are no orphans and nobody is a stranger. So my blog began to be like that. But after a while I felt like all the people I helped and the positive constructive environment that was my blog were going away and becoming the opposite.

        Yes. I am searching. For what, I don’t know. I even wrote a poem about it. And I still don’t understand lol.

        I hope I’m making sense and not weirding you out.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I am not weirded out one bit. It’s hard when something that took so long to build, changes.

        You do need to remember that people are going through a lot right now though. We are all tired, lonely, stressed, and unsure of the future. Emotions are high. We are cranky and can’t handle as much as we would on a regular day.
        A lot of us are searching and growing. That is usual painful.

        Keep praying. Keep asking. I hope my advice helps a bit.

        Liked by 2 people

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