Wouldn’t it be nice to tap into your zone of genius with the snap of a finger?
Unfortunately, creativity isn’t always an on-demand skill (unless you have a superhuman brain—and in that case, we want to talk to you!)
The dreaded “creative block” is a household name for artists, writers, and other right-brained professionals.
Even the designers in our community struggle to come up with ideas at times.
However, if you’re new to the creative field, you might be wondering:
“What is a creative block, anyway?”
Picture this: you sit down to create an apparel design, write a short story, or brainstorm ideas for your next business venture.
You’re hyped up because you think a million-dollar t-shirt idea is going to fall out of the sky and into your lap.
And then, the unthinkable happens.
You get ghosted—but not by your date or potential client.
That’s right, your own imagination draws a blank. Ideas are running dry. The ones that do come through are lackluster and unoriginal.
This curse affects artists, innovators, and entrepreneurs. If you’re a creator of any kind, we bet you’ve lost your inspiration at some point.
At this point, you may have realized that you are struggling with a block of your own, which seems absurd because you’re a self-proclaimed creative mastermind.
Where on Earth did this block come from?
Well, let’s look at the likely suspects.
5 common creativity killers
These culprits might not seem treacherous at first, but they can clog the creative side of your brain to prevent ideas from coming through.
And especially if creating is part of your livelihood, getting stuck is no bueno.
Do any of these creativity killers sound familiar to you?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be the best. We strive to be #1 in every single thing we do. That is the Scrappy way.
However, as entrepreneurs, we realize that chasing perfection can be a trap. When aiming for “perfect” prevents you from taking action, your fear gets the best of you.
It’s simple. You can’t make progress without making moves.
Remember that your custom apparel does not have to be perfect for it to sell. Creative work is highly subjective.
Just look at Beeple’s NFT that sold for $69.3 million and caused a storm of controversy. Some people love Beeple’s work, and others think it’s stupid. That doesn’t stop him from creating digital art and raking in boatloads of cash.
Perfection doesn’t exist, so don’t let it distract you from your creative flow.
2. Fear of judgment
Do you feel a pit in your stomach when you think about how others will react when they see your creative work?
You probably don’t want to admit it, but others’ opinions might be preventing you from fully expressing yourself.
Here’s the thing, though. The most iconic and memorable brands make a statement. They ditch the status quo, burn the rulebook, and shamelessly share their messages with the world.
They definitely don’t shut up just because a few unhappy people wrote mean comments on their Instagram posts.
If no one disagrees with your message, chances are you aren’t saying anything groundbreaking.
The truth is that all great artists, writers, and innovators faced criticism in their time. Don’t be afraid of judgment.
3. A hectic schedule
It’s good to stay busy, but being stretched too thin can harm your creativity.
If you only have 10 minutes to come up with your next apparel design, you’ll likely focus on getting it done rather than thinking of original ideas or producing quality work.
However, there are some people who make miracles happen when they’re under pressure (and we think they’re secretly magicians).
If you’re not one of those people, we advise you to look at your schedule and block out time for your creative work.
Could some of your meetings be emails?
Are you going to die if you skip happy hour on Friday?
Do you really have to spend three hours binging Netflix every night?
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
4. Excessive screen time
We get it. Adobe is your friend. You and your laptop are a package deal.
Although we love our tech in the custom apparel world, we also know that there can always be too much of a good thing.
The Internet and social media are filled with hidden distractions. Just imagine if you earned $1 for every notification you got on your phone. You’d be rich!
Every ping pulls you farther away from your creative focus. And don’t even get us started on how easy it is to get lost in the black hole of your Instagram feed.
If you’re digitally dependent, disconnecting might sound like a nightmare—but we bet you’ll get your mojo back after some time away from screens.
Besides, who doesn’t love getting some fresh air?
5. The comparison game
We live in a culture of comparison.
Apparel sales, awards, press mentions, follower counts, likes, comments, shares—the list goes on.
Healthy comparison can be a source of inspiration, but it’s a risky game.
When you view your work through the lens of comparison, you run the risk of fitting your brand into a mold that it wasn’t meant to be in.
You’ll know it’s detrimental when other people’s wins make you feel jealous or insecure about your own work.
Want to know how to win the comparison game?
Just don’t play. Stay in your own lane. You can even unfollow people if they’re killing your vibe.
Focus on your own work, and watch your creativity flourish.
Now that we’ve covered the what and the why, we can get into the fun part: the block busters.
Here are 10 strategies to kick your creative block to the curb!
1. Write down all your ideas—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
If you’re feeling stuck, you could be vetoing too many ideas from the get-go.
The next time you have a brainstorming sesh, write down every single thought that comes to mind, no matter how ridiculous it may seem.
Every terrible idea brings you one step closer to a breakthrough. Believe it or not, great ideas can spawn from bad ones.
So, grab a pen and let your creative genius run free.
2. Escape your office.
If your workspace feels like a cave because you never see the light of day, it’s time for a change of scenery.
Working in a new environment can open your mind to new possibilities for your projects.
Here are a few locations to consider for your creative escapade:
- Coffee shops
- Hotel rooms
- Coworking spaces
3. Collaborate with like-minded creative folk.
Are you too stuck in your own head to think outside the box?
TBH, we think the lone artist archetype is overrated.
Even if you’re not a natural-born extrovert, having a conversation with another creative person who “just gets you” can give you enough motivation to break through the barrier you’re facing.
Better yet, working with others will expose you to diverse opinions, perspectives, and ideas.
Check your ego. You don’t know everything. There is always something new to learn, and collaboration is a great way to tap into the minds of other visionary people.
4. Break up with your social media platforms.
We see you rolling your eyes behind the screen.
Don’t worry—this isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later!
Honestly, if the content you see online doesn’t inspire you, it’s only a distraction. Read that again.
Going off the (social media) grid will free you of mindless scrolling and allow you to connect with the world around you.
Enjoy your screen-free experiences now because one day we will all exist in the metaverse. (We’re only half-joking.)
5. Venture outside your zone of genius.
Why would you write poetry when you’re trying to create your next t-shirt design?
Because trying a new creative activity can unblock you faster than your ex when they hear you’re single.
Let us explain. If you’re a Photoshop whiz, you probably set expectations for your designs before you even begin working.
Expectations put pressure on you, which can be a good thing in many cases.
However, if you feel paralyzed by your fear of missing the mark, you’ll let your creative block get the best of you unless you push past it.
Let’s circle back to poetry.
Writing haikus and designing t-shirts don’t have much in common.
As the Photoshop guru with minimal creative writing experience, you won’t set the same standard for your poetry as you would for your apparel designs.
Therefore, taking a break from your zone of genius to try a brand new activity can help you feel inspired again.
You’ll be able to create freely without your ego getting in the way.
6. View your creative block as an opportunity to get better.
Remember, getting stuck doesn’t mean you suck.
Creativity is fleeting. Don’t take it personally when your imagination takes a hike.
Instead of getting discouraged and giving up, try to find an opportunity within the challenge you’re facing.
A simple mindset shift can inspire you to get your creative gears turning again.
7. Catch some Zs.
Don’t sleep on your dreams, of course—-but when you feel the tiredness behind your eyes as you rack your brain for ideas, it’s time to go to bed.
Lack of sleep can cloud your thoughts and impair your creative process.
At Scrappy Apparel, we believe in hustling for a purpose, but we also know that we work at peak performance after a full night of rest.
If you cheat your body, it will cheat you (and your creative ideas).
8. Find your most creative time of day.
Maybe you’re awake at the crack of dawn, enjoying your morning coffee and scribbling random thoughts onto a notepad…
…or perhaps you’re the late-night thinker who stays up until 4 am working on your creative projects.
If you’re not an early riser, guess what? You don’t have to force yourself to be creative in the morning.
There’s no need to create pointless rules for yourself based on other people’s opinions of what “productivity” looks like.
Instead, plan your day around your peak creative time, whenever that may be.
9. Raise the stakes for yourself.
Here’s a harsh truth: your creative block may be a form of procrastination.
This isn’t high school anymore. Your creative project isn’t a homework assignment you can leave until the last minute and get an A- on it.
If you don’t create your apparel designs, they will never get done.
And you’ll never order your products.
And you’ll never start the clothing brand you’ve been daydreaming about.
Instead of allowing yourself to procrastinate, find a way to hold yourself accountable.
Tell your friends when you’re launching your clothing line. Start hyping up your brand on social media.
When you share your plans with others, they will expect you to follow through with your claims.
We bet you’ll be surprised how quickly you get to work once you give yourself a deadline and invite the world to watch you create.
10. Lighten up. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
We know what you’re thinking. It seems like this tip completely contradicts the previous one we shared.
Obviously, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for overcoming creative blocks. Some people need to put more pressure on themselves, and others need to take a chill pill.
At the end of the day, we believe creativity is about having fun, bringing new ideas into the world, and sharing fresh perspectives. It doesn’t have to be so serious.
Besides, your right brain will never shut off forever.
Even if the block you’re facing feels heavy now, remember that you have the creative power to catapult it to the moon.
Out of sight, out of mind, and out of your life for good (at least until another one comes along).
So, stop kicking yourself and start creating.
If you enjoyed this guide, you’ll love working with us.
Our brand-building experts are excited to bring your ideas to life. Are you ready to take the first step?