How To Get Rid Of Creative Block, According To Science


It plagues all of us eventually: You're chugging along nicely with whatever project you're working on — words flowing like water, inspiration striking at every corner — when all of a sudden, everything just... stops. Although even the most lauded creatives find themselves in a rut from time to time, the jury is still out on how to get rid of creative blocks. Of course, there's certainly no shortage of advice on the subject; the problem is that the advice varies wildly depending on who you ask. Some authors, for instance, insist that the secret to avoiding writer's block is in giving yourself space to do something else, while others assert that the only way is to force yourself to write every day. How are you supposed to know which advice to take?

According to a study featured in New York Magazine's "The Science of Us," some advice might hold more weight than others. In the study, researchers asked participants to come up with as many solutions as possible to the problems posed in a series of tests. Each test was stopped after a few minutes, and researchers asked how many more ideas participants thought they could come up with. Here's where it gets interesting: When the participants were told to go back to coming up with more solutions, they outperformed the number of ideas they thought they would have.

As they worked longer, their solutions became more creative as well. "If the scientists hadn't pushed them to keep going, they might never have come up with those extra concepts," the video explains. In short, putting their noses to the creative grindstone actually paid off.

On the other hand, a good rule of thumb is to remember that what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for others. If stepping away from the easel (or computer, or piano, or whatever) helps you clear your head, go for it, but if it ends up being distracting, you should probably stick to routine — and vice versa. However, the aforementioned study makes it clear that in the end, you won't get any work done if you don't, well, work for it.

Check out the video below.

New York Magazine on YouTube

Images: New York Magazine/YouTube