Creative block can be deadly if you allow it to be. It is tempting to blame your lack of progress on a lack of ideas; but it’s merely the threat of not having ideas that intimidates you from continuing to work. There’s a piece I have been working on for over a year now that has proven challenging. I have second-guessed myself countless times, even starting over from scratch on more than one occasion. To be honest, much of my stagnation comes from sheer procrastination; but frustration with not being able to create something that meets my own standards certainly must be a factor. When I begin feeling as though I cannot make things work the way I hoped, despair kicks in.
I have found an interesting tool for dealing writer’s block, procrastination, and other problems facing the self-scheduled creative professional. It’s an app called “Unstuck” (iOS App Store).
Unstuck is like a personal career coach, without the exorbitant fees and pseudoscience. It asks you to complete a questionnaire in which you share the reasons you feel stuck on a project, then compiles a report that echoes your concerns, and nudges you towards your next steps of action. If it isn’t good for anything else, at least it will compel you to realize what holds you back. Is it external circumstances, or (always more likely) your own lack of discipline, or a fear of either success or failure? It won’t complete a job for you; but I find that it has helped me at least confront my own thoughts and impulses, so I can get myself out of my own way.
For those unlike myself who have no trouble with procrastination, but in spite of their solid effort have hit a creative block that they can’t get past, I generally like the advice in this Output article, “14 Ways for Musicians to Beat Creative Block.” Because the ideas in the article mostly deal with stepping away from the job, I would not recommend any of them to someone who just isn’t spending time making an effort; but I can attest to their effectiveness. While I personally have a hard time focusing on desktop projects, I do practice a lot; and I have benefitted from sometimes taking a break to refocus and let new knowledge and skills “settle.”