Embarking on any creative endeavour is incredibly fulfilling, but it's not uncommon to encounter those pesky roadblocks that hinder our progress and dampen our creative spirit. I know I’ve come foul of all these things, this blog is written from someone with intimate experience of the obstacles outlined! My hope is that by understanding how these challenges play out for you and then in implementing strategies to overcome them, you can start to unlock more of your full creative potential.
Procrastination: The Art of Delaying
Procrastination is the enemy of productivity and creativity. It can manifest as the urge to put off starting a project or constantly searching out and finding distractions to halt you. I find that one of my biggest procrastination excuses is housework, and I think particularly with the rise of work from home culture, the temptation to put that extra load of washing on or “oh I’ll just clean the bathroom” have crept in even more! I try to put in place some timers and structure around the tasks I know I tend to procrastinate on so I do allow a little of it but I also know it’s not got to stretch into hours.
To combat procrastination within a certain creative project it can also help to break each task into smaller, more manageable steps and establish clear deadlines for those. Timers can help with this again, I sometimes use the Pomodoro technique which I’ve found really helpful. I also find that creating a conducive and welcoming work environment and routine that minimises distractions makes procrastination less likely because the whole process will feel more inviting.
Perfectionism: Striving for the Flawless
Perfectionism has completely stifled my creativity in the past. I set myself such unrealistically high standards that it can be paralysing and completely exhausting. I’ve managed to recognise that I would be so put off by the thought of something not coming out perfectly that I just won’t even start it. I’m trying to learn that instead of aiming for flawlessness, I need to embrace the concept of "progress over perfection" and focus on the process, learn from mistakes, and allow yourself the freedom to experiment.
Allowing time to warm up and mess around can be really freeing here. I sometimes just doodle patterns for a while to get used to making marks and not be so afraid of a blank page!
Overthinking: The Analysis Paralysis
I think you could actually call me the queen of overthinking! ‘Analysis paralysis’, as it’s sometimes also called, basically has you trapped in endless cycles of doubt and indecision - sounds fun right? This is one I’m still massively working on, and the only real tools I’ve got so far to overcome overthinking are to practise mindfulness and work on my self-awareness. Working on some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques to challenge negative thoughts, embrace imperfections, and trust your instincts. Also setting a time limit or deadline for decision-making and telling a friend or even the internet at large can help with accountability to combat excessive rumination.
Self-Doubt: Silencing the Inner Critic
I think overthinking and self-doubt are deeply linked, and both are a major roadblock, causing you to question your abilities and diminish your confidence. Self-doubt is a common experience among creatives but if you’re letting it dictate every move you make you’ll struggle to move forwards. You will need to focus on nurturing self-compassion and self-belief, try reframing negative self-talk with more supportive language and try to work with yourself, not against. If you know me personally, you will know I am my own worst critic, and one the best bits of advice I’ve had (time and time over) is to treat myself like I would treat a best friend or a workshop client. I am such a good cheerleader to others, so I need to turn some of that inwards and cheer myself on much more! Needless to say, surrounding yourself with a supportive community, seeking constructive feedback, and leaning on your support network to help you celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small, is probably my number one tip for overcoming self-doubt.
Overwhelm: Finding Balance and Focus
Overwhelm usually occurs when the demands of your creative projects or commitments feel so insurmountable that you feel like a deer in headlights. These feelings can be hard to manage in the moment and your ideal solution is to try to not get into this state in the first place. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing! I’ve often found when I’m feeling a big dose of overwhelm that going back to basics and trying to strip things back is really useful. Break a bigger thing down into much smaller tasks and manageable steps. Prioritise those tasks and don’t expect to do them all at once, setting realistic expectations is sometimes the best salve for a dose of overwhelm. Delegate tasks when possible, ask for help and really make sure you establish a routine that includes self-care and time for reflection.
Remember, creativity is a journey, I’ve been working on all these things for years and I know I still have a way to go! But with perseverance, motivation, self-awareness and self-compassion, I know I can overcome my stumbling blocks and live my most creative life!
If you’d like more help with uncovering what might be holding you back from achieving a more creative life then please do get in touch. I have lots of different ways we can work together and I’d love to help you embrace that creative life you’ve always dreamed of!