A Different Approach to Art Block

Art Block Illustration

There are various names for this phenomenon — writer’s block, creative block, or art block. I made a list a while back with some suggestions if you have this problem. Today I’ll show you a different approach with an exercise.

This exercise includes a) different steps you do in a relaxed body position, b) mental imagery exercises, and c) a visualization of your art block.

It can also help you solve daily creative problems in your work. For example, if you get stuck on a project and don’t know what to do. That’s why I will test and do this exercise myself too.

I have adapted this exercise so you can do it alone, as it is usually done with a therapist who guides you. This means that I will change this exercise over time with feedback.

What can help with an art block?

There is evidence that vivid daydreaming helps with a creative block. That’s why we do an exercise that enhances this.

We all know when we go for a walk with a problem in our mind, we find the solution before we even come back from the walk. In this sense, I believe that daydreaming can help us when we have this issue.

But how can we deliberately start this daydreaming? Of course, we can encourage it by doing nothing and letting our thoughts run free. By doing something other than our creative work and thus letting daydreaming take its course. Or just do something else, like Kness did, when she had art block. Or we can apply this solution with an exercise, which encourages daydreaming. As a result, it helps with our creative block.

One part of the exercise is a series of mental imagery exercises that form the basis of the Creative Imagination Scale. I’ll give you this part of the exercise in short, there is a link below for more details.

Mental imagery exercises

  1. Arm Heaviness
    • Think about how your arms are getting heavier.
  2. Hand Levitation
    • Think about how your arms are getting lighter.
  3. Finger Anesthesia
    • Imagine your fingers going numb.
  4. Water “Hallucination”
    • Imagine drinking cool refreshing water.
  5. Olfactory-Gustatory “Hallucination”
    • Think about how you perceive the taste and smell of an orange.
  6. Music “Hallucination”
    • Listen to music in your mind that you heard the other day.
  7. Temperature “Hallucination”
    • Imagine your arms getting warm.
  8. Time Distortion
    • Try to slow down time with your thoughts.
  9. Age Regression
    • Imagine going back in time, e.g. childhood.
  10. Mind-Body Relaxation
    • Try to relax your mind and body.

The problem with this exercise

And what’s the problem? A therapist should guide you through this whole exercise, while you are in a relaxed state. Quite difficult to do if no therapist is around. Hence, we’re going to change it up a bit and do it ourselves!

Go through the mental imagery exercise, preferably writing it down, and try to imagine how you do every point of this. Look for personal examples such as point 8 “Time Distortion”. When is the moment in time you will imagine? Then try to remember these points as best as you can.

When you have done that, go to the whole exercise below, which contains a few more points that are easy to remember. If you do the exercise and forget a few things, don’t worry! It’s not a problem at all. If you do the exercise over and over again, you will memorize everything and incorporate the forgotten things.

The exercise against art block

Are you ready? Then let’s do this!

  1. Sit in a dark room with your eyes closed and focused on making yourself relaxed.
  2. Now describe to yourself the contents of your ongoing thoughts and fantasies.
  3. Do the mental image exercises as mentioned. No more than 1.5 minutes for each exercise.
    1. Arm Heaviness
    2. Hand Levitation
    3. Finger Anesthesia
    4. Water “Hallucination”
    5. Olfactory-Gustatory “Hallucination”
    6. Music “Hallucination”
    7. Temperature “Hallucination”
    8. Time Distortion
    9. Age Regression
    10. Mind-Body Relaxation
  4. Now visualize or otherwise experience the elements of your current creative work. Imagine your creative block. What do you want to work on right now? What is the problem? How do you move on?
  5. Come back to reality. Stretch your limbs. Breathe deeply. Open your eyes.

Repeat this daily for two weeks or more. You can try doing this as a ritual before you do any creative work.

Because this is a work in progress and I’ll continue to adjust the exercise after feedback. So, if you do the exercise for a while, it would be cool if you can send me your feedback! I will adapt and improve the exercise so that it is even more applicable and can help you.

Sources

Mental imaginary exercises from the Creative Imagination Scale:
https://hypnosisandsuggestion.org/assets/files/Creative_Imagination_Scale.pdf

Singer, J. L., & Barrios, M. V. (2009). Writer’s block and blocked writers: Using natural imagery to enhance creativity. In S. B. Kaufman & J. C. Kaufman (Eds.), The psychology of creative writing  (pp. 225–246). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511627101.016

Barber, T. X., & Wilson, S. C. (1978). The Barber Suggestibility Scale and the Creative Imagination Scale: Experimental and clinical applications. The American journal of clinical hypnosis21(2-3), 84–108. https://doi.org/10.1080/00029157.1978.10403966

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Ideas, Motivation, and the best thing you’ve ever done.


And here is the update on the creative work comics I’m making. I will approach it a little differently from now on. The problem I had was that I didn’t have enough space in the panels to convey certain concepts and ideas with the comics. So I changed it a bit: They remain fun and relatable (at least for some people), and the solution to the problems my characters have in the comic will be placed in the caption of my post on Instagram or under the comic in the blog posts.

I don’t want to make just any funny comics. I want to offer solutions to situations that creative people have to deal with every day. That’s why I couldn’t just leave out the help to all the problems. Therefore you have to remember to read the caption if you read one of my comics that you can relate to.

Good Ideas Take Time

good ideas comic

Often we have more bad ideas than good ones. This can sometimes make us feel like we don’t have any good ideas. So we often give up too soon. What helps is not to lose hope and work on the ideas again for a while. Make variations, brainstorm again or maybe try a completely new approach. If we keep at it, then at some point the good idea will be there, which we can then improve little by little. An idea doesn’t come to us in a perfect form, but it has the potential to become great. We just have to keep working on it.

Too Many To-Do’s

To Do List Comic

Too many planned tasks can be disastrous. 🥵 I hear these little empty boxes screaming at me when I can’t tick them off. Let’s stop this so we can sleep better. We always want to do more than we can do. But in the end, our day only lasts 24 hours. And we have to divide the hours cleverly without overwhelming ourselves.

Here are some tips that you can use to better deal with to-do lists.

  1. Plan enough (buffer) time. Most of the time, your tasks last longer than you think.
  2. Never write more on your to-do list than you can do in one day. If you really have to do so many things, then something is going wrong with your general planning.
  3. Do the most important task first.
  4. Have flexible things planned that don’t necessarily have to be done today. You’ll feel better if you still can’t finish them.
  5. Some people only put three tasks on their daily to-do list. Much less overwhelming than an endless list.
  6. Put your To-Do List where you can see it. I have a notebook just for my lists. It always stays open on my desk while I’m working.
  7. If you have problems doing anything at all, it is often helpful to have a To-Do list with just one task. It can be anything. For example, watering flowers. Gradually you can create more tasks when you feel like it.

If you follow some of these tips, it will be easier “to do” your to-do list! And your list won’t annihilate you with empty little boxes. 🔥

When Motivation Arrives

Motivation Comic

Motivation comes and goes. Sometimes it fades faster than you would like. Or in this case, faster out the window. 👉 💥

I can give you the following advice: Don’t wait until you are motivated to work on your creative project. Don’t wait for the muse that may never come. Start with the thing you don’t have the motivation for yet. It is tricky, but sometimes it helps to spend ten minutes working on the task you’re not motivated to work on. The magic is that you can get inspired by sitting down and working. And the inspiration will also quickly give you the motivation you are lacking. Ten minutes can then quickly turn into an hour or more. Try this when you’re waiting for your motivation to appear (or when you see it jumping out of the window).

Funnily enough, I had no motivation to finish this little comic. But I kept sitting down and working on it for a few minutes. And lo and behold, something came out in the end.

Some Good Work At Last …?

Good Work Comic

We sometimes have the feeling that we can’t produce anything good. But then the moment comes when we create something we like so much that we think it can’t get any better.

Yet things change after a while.

We look back on it years later and realize what we created back then is just crap. That’s a good sign. It means we have grown in our passion and we have made progress in our creative life. Those are the moments we need to remember! When we think we’re not moving forward. A thing in the past that we can grab onto when we are in creative despair.

But even if you don’t have those moments where you think you’ve made something great, you can still see how you’ve gotten better.

That’s why I advise you to look at your old work to see how much progress you have made. And use this as a weapon of creativity if you need it.


Those four comics are the first of the new series of my “Creative Work Problems” comic. You will find the new ones I do on Instagram. Stay tuned for more! If you have ideas for comic topics you can reach me here.

Creative Work Problems – No. 6 – Creativity in Lockdown

creatvity in lockdown. Try something new

The idea for this Comic came from Siri. Check out her work: https://www.instagram.com/airajoana/

10 ideas for you to try something new and stay creative

  1. Try out new materials and techniques of your favorite way to do art or how you design stuff.
  2. Learn new programs that you can use in your daily work process.
  3. Go into an art shop and buy something you never tried.
  4. If you work in 3D, do something in 2D.
  5. If you work in 2D, do something in 3D.
  6. Do something you always wanted to try.
  7. Animate the stuff that you design or the art you do.
  8. Create new ideas for projects. Try different ways of generating ideas.
  9. Think about how you could work a story into your art or design. Even if it’s an abstract way you work.
  10. What is something you need or want to improve in your artistic repertoire? Learn or improve it!