Whether you like to draw, paint, write, choreograph, or play music, you’re probably familiar with the creative block, where you just can’t seem to do anything despite your motivation. To escape that rut, try doing what you do best, only terribly.
This past weekend, I attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and saw several enlightening panels. One of them was a panel on graphic novels, called “Working Twice as Hard,” that featured graphic novelists MariNaomi, Pamela Ribon, and Tillie Walden. Eventually, the conversation turned to creative ruts when the host, Los Angeles Times’ Tracy Brown, asked about their productivity.
Everyone on the panel had something interesting to say, but Walden immediately jumped in with a useful tip that really stuck with me. She said that when she felt stuck, she would intentionally try to draw something as poorly as she could (she mentioned drawing Bart Simpson with her non-dominant hand, among other examples). That action alone would do two things for her: it would get her started on her work with no pressure, easing her into her flow, and it would often motivate her to prove that she could do that thing better.
I’m not much of an illustrator, but I tried the same tactic with a script I’m writing. I’d been stuck on a scene for days, so I decided to write out the scene in the most poorly conceived way possible – and it helped! What I had written was laughably bad and I knew I could do much better, which helped me carry on properly without freezing up. I wasn’t worried about it not being good enough because I knew it was better than the worst I could do. So, no matter what you create – be it fine art, music, dance, stories, etc. – try to do it terribly when you feel stuck. Instead of comparing your work to the work of others, you only have to worry about being better than you were before. Self-improvement is what it’s all about anyway, right?