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Try These 20 Tips When You’re Creatively Stuck

snowy forest-annie-sprattSince we’re not robots who can produce on demand, we’re bound to get stuck in our creative process. We’re bound to have zero ideas, to feel disconnected and distracted. We’re bound to get frustrated and feel like we’ll never create again. EVER AGAIN. (We’re bound to get a bit dramatic.) That’s when it can help to take a break, and play, to loosen up our minds and bodies. Here’s a list of 20 ways you can play and possibly get unstuck.

  1. Go to a coffee shop, and listen to the conversations. Catch the snippets of dialogue, and record them in your notebook.
  2. Listen 10 things that you notice about your immediate environment. Right now.
  3. List 5 uses for a cup (besides drinking, of course). This suggestion comes from Let Me Out! Unlock Your Creative Mind and Bring Your Ideas to Life by Peter Himmelman. For instance, he came up with “a hat for a doll” and “a hoop for a mini-basketball game.” After you’re done, replace cup with anything in your environment, such as other uses for: a table, toothbrush, a scarf and cupcakes.
  4. Make a scribble in your notebook. “Then, much like you might see shapes and images in a cloud formation, use the pencil to ‘connect the dots’ and highlight what you see,” writes Himmelman in Let Me Out! You might end up drawing animals or flowers or faces. Either way, be sure to draw whatever comes—quickly—to mind.
  5. Make up a short song about how you’re creatively stuck, using the melody of one of your favorite tunes.
  6. Spend 5 minutes inventing an app that helps users bust through creator’s block. What does this app do? What does it look like? How does it work? Why is it so effective?
  7. Make a list of everything creativity is and isn’t.
  8. Give yourself permission to list 20 bad ideas. The worse, the better! Sometimes, we’re stuck because we put too much pressure on ourselves to perform. We convince ourselves that our ideas must be great, and naturally we become paralyzed. So forget all that. In fact, make it a goal to list really bad ideas.
  9. Set the timer for 5 minutes—just 5 minutes—and dance. Or stretch. Or do your favorite yoga poses. Or walk around the house or run around the block. In other words, get moving. Shake out the cobwebs inside your mind and body.
  10. Sketch a quick portrait of yourself as a cartoon character. Then next to it jot down why you’re creating what you’re creating. It doesn’t matter whether it has some bigger impact. Talk about why it’s important to you.
  11. Spend 10 minutes snapping photos of your favorite things.
  12. Write about what our world will look like in 3017. Or draw it!
  13. Create a collage. This post has over 50 ideas for making collages for kids. Which means that these activities are the epitome of play. So whether you have kids or not, give them a try.
  14. Wake up early, and watch the sunrise. Then write about the experience.
  15. Write about a “day in the life” of your creator’s block. What does your block do all day long?
  16. Write a letter to your imagination asking it for help with your project. Dear Imagination, I’m really struggling with …. Then write a supportive and encouraging—and maybe even an imaginative—reply.
  17. Try your hand at art journaling.
  18. Write what’s outside your window. Right now.
  19. Write a paragraph (or more) summary of your novel, which is set in the roaring 20s or on another planet.
  20. Play with different materials. As art therapist Lanie Smith suggested in her interview, “If you have a favorite color, grab it.  You can just take your line for a walk on the paper or scribble with it. Then, compare that material with another one…example: If you started with marker, now try a watercolor pencil or chalk pastel. Set a timer and just play with these materials for 15-25 minutes…”

What’s the toughest thing about having creator’s block? What are your favorite ways to get unstuck and play?

Photo by Annie Spratt.
Try These 20 Tips When You’re Creatively Stuck

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2017). Try These 20 Tips When You’re Creatively Stuck. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 19 Jan 2017
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