How To Overcome A Creative Block In Lockdown

As of writing this article on the 21st February 2021, I have hit “peak” creative block. I tend to get these every 6 months or so, and most of the time I overcome it without having to drastically change my work flow.

For many creatives out there who constantly have to think on their toes and come up with new ideas on a daily basis, creative block isn’t something you should be ashamed of, if anything its your mind simply saying “slow down, regroup, and plan”.

I have seen this creative block coming for about 2 weeks now, and it’s a mix of many life inputs that has caused me to lose motivation and hit what many of us like to call a “wall”.

This creative block is no different to the ones I have had in the past and I am usually very good at finding the source of the block in a timely manner, but this time, it seems a lot of things has caused this mental block, and I have listed them below:

  • Lockdown 3.0 (UK’s third and longest/strictest pandemic lockdown)
  • Alcohol consumption
  • A decrease in traffic/revenue/engagement
  • Hard work, with little reward
  • Life distractions

A combination of all of these in the space of 2 – 4 weeks have had a big part on this month’s creative block, and I will quickly go through the reasons of each one and how I can advise you to get through your personal creative block.

Lockdown 3.0

castle combe
Castle Combe Lockdown Walk – 12/2/21

Lockdown 3.0 is basically the UK’s third lockdown since the pandemic started, our government have been one of the worst countries in the world to handle this outbreak. Because of this they have prolonged it, made mistakes, put millions at risk and are digging our country deeper and deeper into recession.

I am very lucky to be working in the pandemic, and have close family that have stayed safe in this awful time, but I think i can speak for many here that staying indoors for a long period of time saps people of creative flow.

Typically, when I have a creative block I take a few days off work to spend with family and friends, and at times travel on my own to escape and rest the mind, but in a pandemic that’s impossible. I can’t travel anywhere, I can’t escape “the office” or rest my mind in a different location for a while.

This has slowly chipped at my creative output, and my creative ideas are somewhat “bubbled” and it stops me from thinking outside of the box. The best I can do is go for my 45 minute walk everyday, but even that isn’t enough when that’s all I’ve been doing for months on end. Every. Single. Day.

How do I overcome this?

For me it’s escapism. How can I escape the office (my flat) while I am in my office 24 hours a day?

Now this may not work for many of you, but its worth a try because although it doesn’t instantly solve the problem, it eases the mind and lets the creative part of the brain simply rest for a while, which if you do every day for month on end, will help in the long run.

Books, walks, video games, meditation, driving.

Books help me learn/grow in a way that’s not looking at a screen.

Walks/runs release stress and tension even if it feels like my knees have been hit with a baseball bat. I advise doing this daily,

Video games are small hits of dopamine and (it sounds sad) a chance for me to hear my friends or a random persons voice, even if it is for 5 minutes.

Meditation is a great way to focus and let the mind rest for a little while. I tend to meditate when i’m in bad mental states (which I do not recommend), but I have told myself that I need to do it as much as possible.

I really enjoy driving, and at times its a great way to just get out of the flat, let the mind wonder and get some fresh air. A good hours drive every week or two helps big time.

Alcohol Consumption

Throughout most of December I didn’t really drink, I had the odd few ciders on an evening and a couple of “heavy nights” to celebrate time off work and in January I went completely dry.

However, in February I had a tendency to drink, I think I drank everyday for almost 10 days straight which is unlike me, then one day I had a virtual diner party with family when I had a few too many whiskeys.

When I am hungover, it’s the worst possible time for my brain. I hate it. I’ve never been good with hangovers, I usual sleep for most of the day until I recover but this time recovery took almost a whole 5 days.

I felt crippled, and mentally I had no motivation, I started taking half days, I couldn’t focus properly and I get frustrated which didn’t help with the creative block.

My walks/runs stopped, my diet went out the window and i did 50% of the work that was scheduled in the week. This is why I hate alcohol, and i’ve been close to going dry for a year because of the affect it has on my mental and phyiscal health after i have consumed it.

But this month, I went a little be overboard and it was one of the key attributes to my creative block. Alcohol stops motivation, which stops creativity.

How do I overcome this?

Simple, stop drinking you twat.

Decrease in traffic & revenue

The reason many people don’t want to go self-employed is due to the inconsistent fluctuations in revenue, and I don’t blame them. Not knowing how much you are going to earn month of month isn’t healthy, and at times I struggle with that because it’s uncertainty, and I hate uncertainty.

For example, the alcohol that caused 50% less complete work in a week, actually caused a decrease in income, and that’s something new solo entrepreneurs and the self-employed have to deal with on a daily basis.

It’s brutal, and at times creates a bit of anxiety because you’re uncertain whether you’ll make enough this month, have to go into savings, or cut your staff outgoings.

This month I have seen a dip, which was expected as the last quarter of any year pays best in the advertising world, and the first quarter is when advertisers spend less. But when you see it happen, and there isn’t much you can do to help it, it feeds the anxious thoughts and fuels the creative block.

Pressure always stresses the mind which causes you to focus on the wrong thing and think bad thoughts.

How do I overcome this?

Dips and fluctuations are going to happen in any business, but what I need to start doing and I advise those to do the same is to prepare for this dips way in advance.

Have a financial safety net, or a backup for when the dip in revenue comes about. I always try to have a financial back up of 3 months of pay

Hard Work With Little Reward

corsham peacocks
Feeding Peacocks With A Fresh Lockdown Bowl Cut From Kate – 6/2/21

Over the last few weeks I’ve worked a lot, long hours (apart from the 5 day hangover), sprinkled with some late nights, and I have done parts of the job that I dislike which I usually outsource.

But none of this work has paid off, the dips in traffic, and the dips in revenue made my hard work feel like it was flushed down the drain. I even did some pieces of test content that was new which failed miserably.

I have thoughts that go something like “what am I doing wrong?”, “how did I miss that?”, “why are views decreasing?” and “why did that video fail?”.

This led me into a deeper creative block.

How do I overcome this?

I keep moving forward, I keep publishing content, I keep trying new things until something sticks. When it sticks I test it even more to see if it actually works.

I try and stop focusing on the bad, and instead look at the glass half full. This is hard sometimes, especially for those that have imposter syndrome. But where’s there’s bad there’s good.

Life Distractions

New Home Being Built – 21/2/21

The timing of life distractions was just unlucky for me this month. I am purchasing my first property with my partner and its just endless emails and endless things to sign which takes up a lot of time.

Shout out to Davies & Partners for being utter bollocks and making things more stressful for us, cheers.

There’s been a few sprinkles of things which have taken up my time that are not related to work. This pulls me away from the work flow and again this never helps with creative block.

I struggle at times to leave things “to do” until end of the day, I just want them off my table so I do them as soon as possible which at times causes me to push tasks back to the next day.

When this happens I get frustrated and I feel like I haven’t done enough in the work day that makes me accomplished.

How do I overcome this?

I still haven’t managed to fix this issue. I have a tendancy to do the small “life tasks” when its work time. So I guess this could be something I work on to perhaps move these things to the evening.

But important tasks like the house paperwork, phone calls and emails I feel had to be a priority.

My Top Tips To Overcome Creative Block

  • Take time off. Don’t feel like you shouldn’t take time off, even if its a just a day. Chill out, get out of your office/home and do something for the whole day. If you need longer than that do so, I typically take 3 days off to go somewhere for a weekend. This helps me significantly.
  • It’s normal. Experiencing creative block is normal. Everyone gets it, but it’s how you deal with that speeds you out of the block. Find this cycle, and repeat it every-time you hit the “wall”.
  • Regroup and Routine. Once you’ve taken the time off, regroup, and this time set a routine. Set your work hours, schedule life tasks out of work hours, and try to find that motivation again. Be strict with yourself.
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