Every so often we get into a rut – an artistic rut. Some call it writer’s block. I feel that feeling whenever I have taken some artistic direction or other as far as I can go (or as far as I want to go). It’s maddening because it feels like you are never going to produce anything new, original or worthwhile ever again. This is, of course, nonsense.
What I do in those situations is fall back to the importance of play. Playing is the best way to get over whatever is stopping you. If I have been painting with large brushes, I switch to small, or knives, instead of brushes. If I have been painting with bright colours, I go for muted. If my songs are too electronic sounding, I go for a subtle sample or upload some new effect. If I am writing lyrics, I’ll play around with the form or the rhyming scheme. I might even try to wedge some strange word into the lyric.
So learn a new chord. Listen to some music you would never ordinarily listen to. When programming, look at somebody else’s code or their application. Try a bigger or smaller canvas. Paint the light around the subject and not the subject. Outlaw curved lines. Pretend you are writing in a foreign language and that it is being translated into English. The possibilities are endless.
When you’re blocked, try something. Try anything. Whatever you do, don’t let it take a hold of you and cripple your creative muscles. It’s a pernicious cancer that can stop you for months or years. And if you still can’t break out of the grip of writer’s block, stop taking yourself so seriously. It’s only art. Play. Enjoy. Find what it was about your art that attracted you to it in the first place.
In whatever you do, you never need to be stuck. Stuck just means you haven’t played with the infinite possibilities around you. Let serendipity guide you. At some level, your subconscious artist is guiding you anyway, you just don’t need to be aware of that.