Call it what you want - creative block, procrastination, resistance - this can be a real challenge when creating art. As an abstract painter, I have felt “resistance” for, well, as long as I can remember! No matter your age or skill level, there are a few simple things you can do to build your creative habit and overcome these blockers. Plus, the new year is a perfect time to set intentions!
If you are new to art and feel like you can’t pick up the paintbrush or draw in your sketchbook, you are not alone! Are you procrastinating for any particular reason? Do you feel like you can’t make time? Do you put it off because you don’t have the space? Is it fear or insecurity? Whatever the reason, here are 3 helpful tips:
1) Schedule time for creativity
Scheduling time may sound counterintuitive, but if you wait until you feel inspired, you might be waiting for a while. Make art part of your weekly or monthly routine. Working on your art box can be a fun family night activity or even a moment to yourself to relieve stress.
Studies show that setting intentions is an effective way to build habits. “People who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a new habit are more likely to follow through,” states James Clear in his book Atomic Habits. His simple formula for building new habits is:
I will [NEW HABIT] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]
You can also increase your odds of sticking to the new habit if you connect it to something that is part of your routine already. The Tiny Habits Method recommended by behavior scientist BJ Fogg includes this formula:
After [CURRENT ROUTINE], I will [NEW HABIT]
Use these examples to set your creative intentions:
- After I get ready for bed each night, I will doodle in my sketchbook for 5 minutes.
- After I get home from school each day, I will paint for 30 minutes.
- After family dinner on Wednesday nights, we will work on our art projects together at the kitchen table.
- After work on Fridays, I will do my art project to relieve stress and unwind.
2) Make space for your art
Even if you don’t have a dedicated studio space to create art, you can make the process easier for yourself. Store your art supplies in a cart or box that you can quickly grab when it’s time to create. Keep a canvas drop cloth or kraft paper handy to protect your surface if you’re working on the kitchen table or a shared desk. Your art box even comes with kraft paper to help you out!
3) Overcome fear or resistance
We already know there are endless benefits to creativity, but it can still be hard to get started! The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is about overcoming resistance, and sometimes that may start with simply acknowledging it. Don’t judge yourself for putting off your artwork! Recognize when it is happening. Ask yourself what is standing in your way and what motivates you.
For example, sometimes deadlines motivate me. When I created new artwork for my solo show in 2019, I came home from work every day and painted for an hour even if I lacked motivation. I had a big show and not a lot of time to prepare. Some days I would prep canvases with gesso or install hanging hardware if I was not inspired to create something new. It became part of my routine. The key was building and not breaking the habit, which led to consistent creativity over time.
Maybe it’s not procrastination for you, but the inner critic and self-doubt. Honestly, I’m still working on this too! One piece of advice is to let go of expectations and judgment. Create art every day and know that there are no mistakes in art!
Share your goals with me!
I’d love to hear about the creative habits you plan to build. What small action will you build into your existing routine?