How To Beat Writer’s Block: 7 Tips To Overcome It

Crumpled paper in front of blank pages
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

If you’re someone who creates things regularly, you’ve likely gone through a bout of writer’s block. For the sake of this article, writer’s block will be the term I use (as it’s most commonly referred to), but what I’m really referring to is “creator’s block,” because whether writing music, novels, articles… or drawing or painting or filming (and so forth) … it’s all pretty much the same feeling. You know the one I’m talking about: a complete creative shutdown.

Here are 7 tips to get you out of your creative rut and show writer’s block the door.

#1: Read Something

Person reading sitting on stack of books
Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

This one’s some advice I once received from a supervising professor when I was stuck writing my thesis: if you’re stuck writing, start reading. Now, in that particular instance, the content I was referred to be reading about was material directly related to the research I was conducting, but you don’t necessarily have to read about what it is you’re trying to create to be inspired.

For example: how often is it that you see songs inspired by writers? Books inspired by art? Art inspired by history? Films inspired by books?  You can see where I’m going with this. You might not be inspired to write about the same subject you were working on, but once the creative juices are flowing again, you can quickly return back to your main project with a possible new one to work on as well.

There’s always a new source of inspiration right around the bend if you pick up a book and start reading.

#2: Try Writing Something Out Of Your Regular Niche   

Maybe you’re regularly a writer. If you’ve hit a creative wall in your writing, try drawing something instead. Not too handy with visual arts (like yours truly)? Maybe try writing a song, even if just giving some lyrics a shot. Still too far for comfort? Try writing non-fiction if you regularly write fiction, or try writing fiction if you usually write non-fiction.

The point is, mix it up.

Girl sitting outside on a rock writing in a notebook
Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Personally, as a musician, I have very diverse musical tastes, so when I’m working on a heavy metal project, and I get stuck… I go pick up my acoustic guitar and start working on something lighter and more mellow. As I’m also a writer, I’m currently doing my best to write a novel, but it’s a big project, so whenever I get caught staring blankly at an empty screen, I switch things up. Usually, that means I go and write some short poetry (also in a notebook instead of on my computer) to keep my writing tools sharp and my creative mind active.

Trying something new will allow you to separate your work while still stimulating your creative mind. The best part is, by being something new, it will always feel fresh… and fresh is useful for getting those creative sparks to fly again.

#3: Clear Your Head

This one’s a matter of personal tastes, but go do something that clears your head. For reasons unknown to me, whenever I need to loosen up my creative side, I find moving water creatively stimulating. I can’t tell you how many songs I wrote while sitting in a hot tub, staring up at the stars, but it’s a lot. Now, as I don’t have regular access to a hot tub anymore, I find those hot tub moments have been replaced with a nice hot shower (where I often catch myself frequently jumping out to jot down new ideas).

Whether it be a walk in the woods, meditation, some quiet time with candles/incense / the Necronomicon… inspiration often strikes us when we’re relaxed and clear-headed, so go do something that lets you loosen up and wind down.

Young woman sitting in yoga pose on the edge of a rock in the mountains
Photo by Noelle Otto from Pexels

#4: Change Your Setting

Many of us have a go-to creative workspace. We write at the same desk. We paint/draw in our art studio. We write music in our jam space. Often times, we do these things in such routines that we create at the same time of day every day and the same days of the week every week.

While consistency is definitely vital in forming productive habits (and creating things is no exception), sometimes a little change of scenery can do us some good and bring us out of monotony.

Try shaking things up a bit and write at a coffee shop for awhile, go outside with the acoustic guitar, or take your sketchbook to the park. Sometimes a little change is all we need to get us back to normal.

#5: Try Writing Out Of Sequence

Scrabble pieces forming a block to read Rearrange
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Perhaps it’s because we regularly perceive things as linear, but frequently we assume that our work has to be linear too. Stories aren’t told in jumbles; they start at the beginning, end at the end, and the middle fills the space between the two.  But do we have to write them that way?

Absolutely not.

Got a great idea for an ending? Good, write it down! Got a sweet guitar riff for a bridge that doesn’t fit in with the song you’re working on? Cool! Save it or build around it and see what happens!

Art might be composed of many lines… but nobody ever said it has to be created in one.

#6: Just Do It

The Nike slogan might just be the key to beating writer’s block: sometimes, you just have to do it. Just start writing. It doesn’t matter what you write, but sit down and put whatever comes out down on the page. It doesn’t even matter if it’s crap… because you can always come back and edit later.

Don’t even an idea? Well… that itself is an idea, so why not write about nothing then, just to get something down?

Here’s an example of what I mean:

One of my absolute favorite songs by my favorite band (Nightwish) is a song called “Dead Gardens.” You know what it’s about? Writer’s block.

Tuomas Holopainen, the band’s primary songwriter, was going through a severe period of writer’s block. When fresh out of ideas, he decided to write a song in which he poetically describes the feeling of going through writer’s block. Pure genius? I personally think so.

For those who are interested, you can find the song with lyrics here: Dead Gardens (Nightwish)

There is always something to write about because even nothing itself is something.

#7: Take A Break

If all efforts of shaking writer’s block have failed, you might just need to take a break. Give yourself some rest and go do something else. Catch up on sleep and forget about creating anything for the day. Going through a bit of writer’s block is not anything to beat yourself up over or feel bad about; we as creators all go through it eventually.

Close up of two feet at the end of a bed

Remember: you can always try again tomorrow. Sometimes the best remedy for lack of productivity is taking some time to do nothing at all.

COVID-19 Coronavirus: 5 Things Creative People Can Do During Isolation

Silhouette of a man in front of a white window
Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

How quickly things can change. A week ago, I wrote an article that briefly discussed the increasing rates of remote work opportunities. Today, many governments and corporations worldwide are making remote work mandatory for many employees, while the world deals with the rising severity of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you’re like many in the entertainment/hospitality industries, you’ve likely found yourself suddenly without a job. While I won’t make any generalized recommendations in that regard (because everyone’s financial and life situations are unique), this article will highlight 5 things that people with creative talents can do while in isolation as the world fights and recovers from COVID-19.

#1: Build Your Portfolio

If you read my previous post about how creative people can earn new incomes in 2020 (you can read it here if you haven’t), you’ll know that remote freelance work is an excellent opportunity for those with creative skill sets and talents to earn some money. In most cases, however, to be able to find new work and clients, you’ll need to showcase your abilities in a portfolio.

What better time to put one together than right now?

Chances are you’ve completed tonnes of projects (be they publicly available or not) that show off your talents, but maybe you just haven’t put them all together in one place yet. By building a portfolio, you’d accomplish just that, so that with only the click of a button, your next potential employer can see the best of what you have to offer and why they should hire you over someone else.

There are many platforms available on the internet (several of which are free) that you can use to upload your work and showcase your talents and skills in your own unique way. If you don’t know where to start, click on the link below for a list of 9 free websites that you can use to build a great digital portfolio.

Read: The 9 Best Free Portfolio Websites for Creating an Impressive Digital Portfolio

#2: Learn Something New

If you’re anything like myself, any large block of time that frees up in your schedule becomes a great opportunity to learn something new. Whether it be picking up my guitar to learn a new song / technique, scouring the web for information on how to write and develop fictional characters, or taking an online marketing course to boost my credentials, I’m always on the hunt to learn something.

Close up of book labelled Graphic Design
Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

There are a lot of free courses on the internet that can teach you new skills or improve upon existing ones that can help you turn your passion into profits. While the coronavirus has thrown the world into a state of uncertainty, we can still choose to do something positive with the extra time we may or may not have wanted. Why not use that spare time to do something productive?

#3: Share Some of Your Work

Great art is meant to be shared. In times like these, I’m sure, like many others, you could use a break from the constant flood of panic posts and #coronavirus updates taking place on an hourly basis. Instead, why not flood the world with some of your creative work and give others a break too?

The simple act of just sharing a painting you painted, a video or clip of the song you’re working on, or a few pictures you took can be a bright spot on someone’s news feed that is likely otherwise a bombardment of end of the world talk.

Many of us turn to art and music already, so why not pass the buck a little and share some of it?

#4: Find New Inspiration

If there’s one thing I can say about my own creative works, it’s that the inspiration to create them can come from anywhere.

For example, whenever I’m going through a rough patch in life, I typically find a way to write poems or fiction or songs about dark and gloomy things. It’s just my way of processing those events and turning them into something else that’s not so bad. On the flip side, whenever I’m happy, it just seems more natural for me to notice all of the intricate and beautiful details that make living life so great. As a result, during those times, I write about nature or fantasy or other happy stuff.

Two acoustic guitars next to each other
Hello again my friends.

I don’t think I need to state that a lot is going on in the world right now, but it’s not all gloom, death, and disaster… even though there is a lot of that going around too. I’m not going to tell anyone what type of art they should make, how they should feel about COVID-19, or how people and society are acting because of it, nor how they should interpret and internalize everything that’s taking place across the globe. But maybe what’s happening right now inspires you to do something about it in your own creative way, and if it does, that’s never a bad thing.

Creating things is a great way to express one’s self healthily; almost as if it were therapy for our souls.

#5: Create Something

Best used in combination with all of the suggestions above, creating new work is always a good use of your time. The joy that one gets from the process of creating something is worth performing the process itself, let alone all of the other benefits that come from having made something awesome.  

Plain and simply put, the world is a better place when people are creating new things within it. Art, music, technology… all of these things started as ideas in someone’s head, and it’s creative people like yourself that get to shape new ideas into something the rest of us can see, experience, or use.

Man in front of several graffiti paintings painting one of them
Photo by Ari He on Unsplash

That being said, if you’ve got the time, go create something. There’s never a better time than now to do anything… as isn’t now the only time we ever really have?

Kurt Vonnegut once said, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” 

Well put, Mr. Vonnegut. If not now, then when?

Creative isolation isn’t all bad

At the time of writing, we don’t know how long or how severe the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic will continue across the world. However, we as a species, as a society, and as communities will get through this together. Light has and always will shine through the darkness.

In the meantime, don’t let your life stop or fall victim to panic or depression. These are tough times, but there’s still a lot you can do from home while being a socially responsible person and doing your diligence in keeping the spread of the virus to a minimum.

Go create something awesome, simply because you can. You’ll be glad you did.

The Creative Wealth Project: What It Is And Why It Was Created

Silhouette of man looking up at the stars and sky
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

If you’ve made it this far, I commend you for taking an interest in the Creative Wealth Project. It’s something I started stemming from my passion for creativity itself, but also as a way to celebrate and grow the creative projects of others.

If there’s one thing I know about creative people, it’s that we never stop creating. The works of creative people are what bring us so much joy in life: the songs we listen to, the images we look at, the videos we watch, and the stories we read. These creative works make our lives better. It is my opinion that these works need to be shared with the world more frequently.

So what is the Creative Wealth Project?

I like to think of it as a garden.

What It Is: A Garden of Creativity

What makes any garden great is its diversity: different types of plants all flourishing within a confined area while simultaneously keeping hold of their own space. Cultivated properly, a garden produces a medley of valuable resources to harvest when we need them.

The goal of the Creative Wealth Project is to do the same thing: to provide a wealth of resources grown from diverse sources but to provide a place for all to be harvested at a single location.

Farmer's market box loaded with various vegetables
Photo by Shelley Pauls on Unsplash

Let me demonstrate with an example.

Suppose you’re a musician, and what you know about is music. You write and perform your songs, and they’re good. That’s great, but any musician trying to build a music career is going to eventually need the services of:

  • A recording studio (a good sound engineer makes a HUGE difference regarding what your finished songs will sound like)
  • An artist / graphic designer (t-shirts, logos, merchandise… they don’t design themselves)
  • A web designer (a good-looking website keeps people coming back to it… a bad one, not so much)
  • A videographer (as they say, video killed the radio star)
  • A photographer (you’re going to want some high-quality promo shots to show your audience what you look like)

…and that’s just for the immediate product (your band, your music) itself. You haven’t even started promoting your music, merchandise, or events, which then will require:

  • A strong online presence (social media is free, but selecting how many platforms and which ones are worth your time to manage can be daunting)
  • Press releases (many musicians I’ve met don’t write like journalists, and people don’t like to read things that aren’t well written)
  • Marketing strategy & content (fans today want to be kept engaged and made aware of what you’re doing, what’s coming up in the future, new release/tour dates, etc.… that requires consistent content creation and distribution)

The list can keep on going, but you get the point.

My guess is, you’re not a master of all of these things, and even if you are… how much time is that taking away from the time that could be better spent playing/creating more music?

Camera man filming young woman playing fiddle
Photo by Kyle Loftus from Pexels

Of course, this example is for musicians, but the concept doesn’t apply just to them. It applies to any of us looking to leverage our creative talents in the pursuit of using them for a career or income.

Enter the Creative Wealth Project.

Here, you will see that the gates to the garden are open, so come in and find what (i.e., advice, information, guides) or who (another creative person who can do the thing you need done) you are looking for. Then you can take the next step forward into turning your passion into the livelihood you’ve only so far dreamed about.

Why It was Created: My Story

I am a very creative person, but I’ve also had my fair share of experiences of failure in the pursuit of my dream career.

Let me quickly tell you my story, because it’s the reason why I started The Creative Wealth Project.

I was once a professional guitar player in a hard rock band for about 6 years. We made (in my opinion) awesome music, and we were really good at doing so. We played a lot, and seemingly wherever we went, the audience loved us.

Our business acumen, though? Non-existent, and so eventually, we stopped making any new traction, and our band slowly dissolved and disbanded completely. In other words: we failed.

Mitch Cuming of the Creekwater Junkies performing on stage with guitar in hand
Believe it or not, this was me circa 2010.

It really sucked, but like the sensible lad I am, I decided to go back to school. I then graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management, a program I pursued because the parallels to the music business and sports business are similar. When I enrolled in the program, I thought it made sense to learn more about the things that I wish I had known about (marketing, contract law, sales & promotions, event management) while pursuing my music career.

And I did learn those things. I actually found I liked learning about them so much that I kept on going and enlisted in a Master’s Program in the same field, with the intent of getting my Ph.D. afterward.

Yet, a few years in, although I was quite good at it, I lost my drive to continue my research and graduate studies; my research no longer held any meaning to me. I no longer cared about whether I answered the research questions I had asked in my studies, nor did I care what the answers might even be.

So I quit.  

Finally, no longer in academia, I went into sales to put my business acumen into practice. Turns out, I was pretty good at that too. There was just one tiny little problem: I hated it.

Did I hate business itself? No. To this day, I still love implementing different business strategies and seeing them come to fruition successfully. I also love equally the challenges that come from having to adapt to ever-changing marketplaces and industries. In this case, though, quite the opposite of my musical career, in sales, I had excellent business acumen but found no joy in using it. Instead, I found it to be soul-sucking work: pushing products I personally didn’t believe in on people who didn’t need them for my own financial gain.   

So I quit that too.

And now, here I am, the founder of The Creative Wealth Project, something I find meaning in.

I believe there is always something we can learn from each other, and I think my experiences can be of help to other people.

Light bulb on blackboard as center of flow chart

And so that’s why I started the Creative Wealth Project: maybe others can avoid the mistakes I made or learn from the expertise of others who know something they don’t. Perhaps through this website, I can help connect one creative person to another who otherwise wouldn’t know each other existed.

Hopefully I do. And hopefully they produce something great.

Let’s Grow Together

If you’re here only to find regular business content and advice, like marketing strategy, consumer analysis, sales techniques… you might be more at home going to a business blog.

At the same time, if you’re here only looking to find specific art forms or niches or are only here only to push your own project with no regard for the projects of others… you might want to keep looking too.

The Creative Wealth Project is designed to be a place where art and business shake hands, like an online bazaar where the creative community can grow and learn from each other’s diversity to achieve our goals of creating the livelihoods we desire.

And so it will be.

As Margaret Fuller once said: “If you have the knowledge, let others light their candle in it.

Grafitti on brick wall of text Together We Create
Photo by “My Life Through A Lens” on Unsplash

Alone, we are but candles, but together, we can build a bonfire.

So let’s do it.

Never give up. Never stop creating. Let’s grow together.

3 Reasons Why Creative People Are Getting Paid in 2020

Glass cup of money with stem and leaves growing out of it
Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

If you’re the creative type like myself, perhaps you’ve dreamed of one day turning your passions into profits. Just imagine: wouldn’t it be great if your income came from doing something you already love?

Well, today I’m here to tell you that there’s never been a better time to start turning those dreams into reality. Here are three reasons why creative people are turning passions into profits in 2020 and why you can too.

Reason #1:

The High Demand for Creative Content

We live in an extraordinary age: at no other time in history have people produced and digested content as rapidly as we do now. We stream videos on Youtube, browse images on Pinterest, listen to music on Spotify, and read blog posts our friend tagged us in on Facebook. We do this on our phones, tablets, TVs, computers…

The point is: content is everywhere, it’s readily available, we are consuming it daily and are seemingly always hungry for more.

Man looking at tablet with TV screen behind it
Photo by YTCount on Unsplash

What that means, of course, is that fresh new content is consistently in high demand. Now I’m not an economist by any means, but I know that when things are in demand, they’re considered valuable. Enter us creative types, because after all, somebody has to create all that content, right?

The Explosive Growth of Content Marketing

Content marketing is skyrocketing. By 2021, the content marketing industry has been projected to be worth almost $413 billion.

Read: Why Content Marketing is Set to Be an Industry Worth $412.88 Billion by 2021.

Why?

It’s more cost-effective than traditional marketing. It is audience focused. It’s engaging. It builds brand identity, voice, and trust. The list goes on, but big business seems to have finally tapped into the numerous benefits content marketing can offer.

Therefore, the industry is a booming one with no signs of slowing down.

What is Content Marketing?

If, at this point, you’re asking, “what’s content marketing?”, in a nutshell, it is the process of creating, publishing, and distributing interesting (hopefully) content for a targeted audience.

Rather than the traditional method of pushing unsolicited advertisements onto consumers, content marketers utilize intriguing and informative content to pull consumers toward their brand and their products/services. By creating an engaging experience, consumers develop a rapport with the brand and usually end up supporting that brand in some capacity with their wallet.

And, like most things in 2020, most content marketing is predominantly done online.

While I won’t spend too much time in this post exploring content marketing, I’ll give you some quick examples of it. For instance, if you’ve ever:

  • Watched a music video
  • Googled “How to…” for literally any topic and then clicked on a search result
  • Read a blog post (like this one, for example)
  • Followed an Instagram story/account
  • LOL’d at a meme someone shared on your Facebook feed
Cell phone screen with many social media apps and notifications
Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

…then you’ve participated in content marketing as a potential consumer. It’s that simple, and it’s that encompassing.

So who’s creating all this interesting content that we share/follow/read/watch?

The answer, if you want it to be, is creative people like you.

Somebody has to write those articles, film those videos, play those songs, take those pictures… you get the drift. Perhaps more importantly, somebody’s getting paid to do it. The good news? You can, too.

There’s a good chance that the creative mindset and skills used to generate all that exciting content are ones you already possess. Whatever your niche is, I can almost guarantee you that the opportunities to use your creative skills professionally within it are growing.

You just have to start looking for them.

Reason #2:

The Rise of Remote Work Opportunities

Perhaps you know someone who works from home. Maybe they’re a full-time parent who still wants to earn an income, or maybe they like having a job without a daily commute. Whatever the reason, there are a lot of benefits to working from home, and it has quickly become a highly desirable option among job seekers.

Many companies have adapted to accommodate and it shows in the numbers. 

***EDIT*** Since the spread of the coronavirus has grown exponentially since the time of writing this post, remote work has gone up with it. It wouldn’t be a far-fetched thought to think that this virus might be a catalyst for more permanent remote work in the future when this pandemic ends.

Young man sitting comfortably on couch working on laptop
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

According to Forbes, there has been a 159% rise in remote working in the US since 2007, and by 2020 it is estimated that half of the UK workforce will work remotely. Last year in 2019 alone, remote working opportunities in the art and the creative sector grew by over 40%.

Read: Is Remote Working Just Another Fad Or Actually Good For Your Business?

Read: 7 Fast-Growing Remote Career Categories

While the reasons for the increase of remote work are various, the biggest reason cited for said growth is simple: a shortage of talent.

Creative People are Talented

Cha-ching!

Enter us creative types once again, because as it turns out, creative people are oozing with talent.

Artist hand drawing art on tablet
Photo by Clint Bustrillos on Unsplash

With years and years spent honing our crafts and developing skills that aren’t easily replicated (as so many of us do in our spare time), creative people are precious in today’s job market, and employers have taken notice.

As the competition for the best talent has become fierce among employers, it’s becoming more evident that the best talent for the job is not always locally available. Accordingly, many employers have taken to hiring remotely to fill these skilled specialty positions.

And like everything, top talent = top dollar, no matter where the source is located.

No Borders For Creativity

Both literally and figuratively, there are no borders for creativity.

With that in mind, the opportunities to turn our skills into cash from wherever we reside are growing.

I’ll give you a personal example: my sister lives in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. She works for a company in New Jersey, just across the river from the Big Apple. She’s never been to company headquarters, and she doesn’t have to go there. She’s a graphic and web-designer and received a referral for the job from a childhood friend who, at the time, was living in San Francisco. Before she took the position, she was working a job in Ottawa that she absolutely hated.

Now? She gets to design things from the comfort of her apartment while enjoying the company of her dog. Sounds pretty great doesn’t it?

Close up of camera in hand overlooking mountain background
Photo by Mohamed Almari from Pexels

As remote work is quickly becoming the norm in the corporate world, people with creative skills will be sought out more than ever. Whether they’re working from an office or their living room, they’re going to get paid for their expertise.

Reason #3:

The Shift Towards Freelancing

With the increasing amount of remote work opportunities and continuous demand for high-quality content, the logistics of working successfully as a freelancer has become easier than ever. Technology has almost wholly put the old business model of face-to-face meetings in its grave, and as a result, many skilled professionals have shifted to becoming freelancers.

EVERYBODY WINS With Freelancing

Savvy companies are switching to hiring freelancers for one simple reason: freelancers, especially those working remotely, save companies a lot of money.

When companies hire freelancers, they are hiring independent contractors. While independent contractors usually are paid well for their efforts, they don’t come with all the attached costs that an employer/employee relationship does.

For example, remote working freelancers have no overhead costs. Employers don’t pay for training, they don’t pay for travel, they don’t pay for office space, they don’t pay recruitment fees, they don’t have to worry about turnover rates, and they certainly don’t pay for the many hours lost to water-cooler gossip sessions.

They pay for results.

This is good news for the talented professional freelancer: better results lead to higher pay rates and better clients. 

Man sitting in front of mixing board, speakers and computer screen
Photo by Tom Pottiger on Unsplash

Quality Work Equals Quality Pay

Freelancing is not an easy road to get started on, but the rewards can be significant. Building a strong reputation is key to attracting high-quality clients, but for talented individuals with some business sense, they can quickly rise above their competition and get paid handsomely for their work.

For example, if a freelancer’s work is good, a strong portfolio marketed the proper way can help drive demand for their services and lead to new referrals from satisfied clients. With an increase in demand, so too increase the rates a freelancer can charge their clients.

Though it varies depending on the type of work, many established freelancers are paid well over $50 an hour for their services.

What makes the pot even sweeter is that most skilled freelancers use their time effectively, which means they can comfortably take on more jobs or be pickier about the ones they take.

In 2020 Time Is Not Money

The days of merely trading time for money are disappearing in the skilled workforce. Employers want high-quality content when they need it, and they’re willing to pay for it wherever they can get it.

As creatives types, we’ve already put our time in: we’re writers because we already write a lot, painters because we already paint a lot, photographers because we already take a lot of pictures.

In 2020 the new way of trading won’t be time for money; it will be skills for money. We’ve already got those in spades.