do it. create. walk and see. cut and paste. scratch and sniff.
do whatever you have to do to feed your soul.
this is my commitment.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

43 approaches to creative block

I just finished reading Breakthrough: 90 Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination by Alex Cornell.  Cornell had 90 creative people discuss their tactics when dealing with creative block.  Here's the list in a nutshell and my thoughts (on most of them).

take notes  I am a compulsive note taker in the absolute healthy sense (meaning, this specific compulsivity feeds my soul).  I have notebooks full of quotes, ideas, one liners, book reports and lists.  I find taking notes is another form of creative expression for me.  It's meditative too.  I am constantly referencing old notebooks to spark ideas.

keep trying, keep showing up  create...every day.  Need I say more?

do something mindless, do something repetitive  Taking a "detour" by scrubbing the shower, mopping the floor or doing the dishes always shifts something for me.

look through something nostalgic

take a shower

consciously walk away  This is so hard but SO helpful.  Sometimes it takes Peter actually pulling me away from my studio.  In the end, I am always glad he has done this.

shift the perspective  Sometimes I work on my paintings upside down, yes.  This is a great tactic.

take a drive  Ooooh, if only I did this more often.  It always helps me to go on a long drive out of the city, walk in fields and talk with cows.

change your work location  I just shifted from my studio to the dining room table (bless Peter for not caring).  This makes SUCH A BIG difference.

clean, organize, simplify, pick up your surroundings  If I do this in my studio, this really fuels my creative process.

check into an expensive hotel (and give the remote to the front desk)  I have only done this for pure recreation and relaxation.  In this case, I keep the remote...

go on a walk  Again, so hard to pull myself away and do, but such an easy remedy that ALWAYS works.

take a vacation  If only NOW and yes.... If I take a week's vacation and spend time in another geography, this can fuel a brand new body of work!

learn something new

listen to music  I'll add: something that puts a kick in your step, makes you want to dance and sing along...

bombard yourself with visual images  This is where pinterest is GENIUS

spend time with your cat

watch a movie  I watch SO MANY movies.  If you only knew...  

let your mind wander


use your opposite hand

run an errand  

go take photographs  So fun to do and sometimes difficult to give myself the permission and time.

look at books I have two words: book reports!

build something

explore the "bad" (yes, this will get you there too)  I could write pages and pages about this (but I won't).  I create WHATEVER no matter how terrible I think it is (and I post it too).  I believe every creation is a significant part of the brilliance (that ah-ha moment when we stumble into our own genius)

talk to another person  It's helpful to discuss my process out loud with another.  I usually discover something on my own just by doing so.

play with your dog

spend time with another discipline

take a bubble bath  If I did this, I'd take a nap afterwards (which isn't necessarily a bad thing - see "get enough sleep")

take a bike ride

get enough sleep

go to a coffee shop

change your materials  I LOVE doing this (but I always return to paint in the end...)

start another project  I always do this.  I usually have many o' projects going on simultaneously for this particular reason.

do your laundry

watch tv  There was a significant time in my life where I completed a body of work in front of the tv.  I couldn't even tell you what I watched (I have NO recollection of that) but the body of work I completed was a BREAKTHROUGH and I was and still am very proud of it.  I think there is something to be said about tv occupying the critical part of your mind - SERIOUSLY.

don't take yourself too seriously This is way easier said than done for me.

clean out a closet or drawer  I LOVE participating in this activity and I always feel SO MUCH BETTER when I am finished.


eat spicy food

start with a fresh slate  Sometimes I buy new tubes of paint or a new canvas.  I may not even use these materials, but it does get the ball rolling somehow.


  1. Kari, this is SUCH a great resource of tools, thank you so much, your blog knocks it out of the park for me.

  2. Via Chris G's site; there was no contact info to your comment. But I'd like to reply if it's still applicable with "I can commit to 21 days"

    Hope to hear from you

  3. Off to sort through a sock drawer!!