4 Easy Ways to Overcome the Creative Mental Block

creativity outside - landscape photo of sunset - go outside to take a break from your stressful hobby and miniature painting

How do you overcome a creative painting block? You have a pile of metal or plastic models that need a paint job, but you can’t seem to will yourself to pick up a paintbrush. Your motivational engine has stalled. Let’s find a way to get over your creative block! Here are 4 ways you can overcome your mental block from getting more art and hobby work done!

In this article, I share 4 simple ways you can break through your motivational rut for painting models and miniatures.

Start with build up good habits

The foundation for any productive workflow in hobby or art is good habits. This means you build time and space into your daily routine for these activities. Just as you would routinely keep good hygiene, e.g., taking regular showers, you should be at your hobby or painting workspace on a regular basis.

The great thing about building a good hobby habit is to remind yourself that you don’t need to work toward any high expectation. Any amount of hobby work counts. A simple base coat or a few brush strokes here and there is all you need to get the juices flowing.

It’s like a campfire you want to keep burning through a cold night. You don’t need a roaring bonfire. No, instead all you need to do is tend the humble flame, keep the embers burning. In other terms, this is maintenance. This way, when you need to do something big, like cook a hotdog or roast a marshmallow (or to follow this metaphor, paint a bunch of miniatures), you’re ready! All you do is feed the flame.

Maintain your creative juices. Build up inside you a glowing ember of creativity. Keep it warm until you’re ready again.

Learn to rest

Every artist needs to rest. You can’t expect to run a marathon without caring for your body. Rest is a key aspect of a powerful mind. As your physical parts of you need fuel and relaxation, your mind does too.

Exerting your creative forces takes a toll on your psychological well-being (and feeds it, too). At some point, you’re going to have to stop and do something non-creative, like mow the lawn or doing the dishes. In the repetition of mindless activity, your mind can sleep (if you catch my drift).

Of course, maybe you already knew all this. Learn to work in a routine, but build in time to take breaks, too.

Here are 4 simple tips that may also help you break out of a creative rut

1. Finish Everything

You want your finished result to match your time and energy investment.

Your opinion differs from mine. What is ugly to you is beauty to me.

At the end of the day, you’re trying to match your expectation that your work should be worthy of the time you put in.

But, you’re not sure you can do it and end up telling yourself, “Why start, if I can’t make it look as good as I want?”

You stall out, because the imagined or envisioned painted miniature serves your expectations.

Instead, expect yourself to finish the painted miniature.

It’s cliche, but true that the completed project is the reward in itself.

2. Work On Multiple Projects at the Same Time

You change your mind quickly, and don’t know where to start. Okay, then start on everything (but keep point #1 in mind). Are you the type of person who stalls out because you know there are many ways to accomplish the same thing?

Too many choices is debilitating, paralyzing. You don’t want to choose the wrong method.

I heard a story once about a man who went to his doctor because he was experiencing incredible pain.

The doctor asked the man, “where does it hurt?”

The man answered, “All over!”

The doctor told the sick man to touch his knee. The man touched his knee and screamed in pain. The doctor told the man to touch his arm. More painful screaming. The doctor instructed the man to touch his nose. The sick man cried in pain again. Exasperated the man said, “Doctor, everywhere I touch hurts.”

The doctor finally examined him more closely, “You silly, you’ve got a dislocated finger!”

Are you one that keeps seeing your miniature pieces in different ‘light’? I do.

My perspective keeps changing and it doesn’t feel right wherever and whenever I try and go with a project in a pre-planned direction. I get impatient. Nowadays, I don’t plan ahead.

I dive headfirst and I paint.

I hope that the end result is close to what I expected, but I let the process guide each paint (or whatever medium you’re using) application. Generally, this means I’m painting in fits and starts. It’s clunky, but clunky is progress (!).

So, I am most productive when I paint multiple models of different types at the same time. Because every time I switch to a new piece, I feel  like I’m starting something, which is a good feeling. It’s the mid-way part, the in-between start and done that I find I get lost. 

Try it. Begin multiple things and bounce between them. As you lose momentum on a project, go back to previous project.

3. Work in a Community of Similar Hearts

Shades of a color, stick together.

Are you surrounded by like-minded individuals?

Different people are just that, different.

It helps when people around you are working on hard projects, and getting hung up on the same problems as yourself. A shared struggle.

Paint in groups of other people. Bring your work into the open and work alongside others. Art processes can bring about voices in your head (that inner-editor) that judges and criticizes you as you work. All that negativity spawns loneliness.

Some people cope with this better than others. But, I think all can benefit with having friends and relationships with other artists. 

4. Escape for a Break in Nature, Outside

Get out there. Outside.

Get inspired by natural wonders that you don’t have to make yourself. Go see a sunset at a beach or at the top of some hill.

Take a walk.

See the neighborhood.

Don’t escape by staying indoors and consuming television, video games, or other passive escapism-type activities. For some reason, here, I can’t explain it but these things are brain drains for me. I don’t feel inspired by any of this stuff. They are merely band-aids to your struggle with being stuck.

Yeah, when you want to get moving on a project. Get inspired by the outdoors.

Don’t escape inside. Get outside.

Then, take that feeling of being not stuck-indoors, and try and replicate it.

creativity outside - landscape photo of sunset - go outside to take a break from your stressful hobby and miniature painting
Yellowstone National Park – Image created with a Sony a6000 Camera (@ 24mm f8 1/320sec)

Final Word

Well, that’s it. The four ways I have used to overcome and train my head-space to move forward in any creative endeavor. Finish. Work multiple projects. Stay connected. Be in nature. 

I hope you enjoyed this article. Leave a comment. Let me know if you’re an artist, and if you’ve gotten “stuck” how you move through it? 

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1 thought on “4 Easy Ways to Overcome the Creative Mental Block”

  1. Nice suggestions! During my last painting block, I was so tired that I didn’t even really want to hold a paint brush. I took a break for a bit, then started pushing myself to paint just a little. “Ok, I could just do that helmet…”. Of course, once I would get started I always did more than just little, and soon I was back on a regular routine!

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