What’s Really Causing Your Creative Block (and how to fix it)

Feb, 2017

Taking up massive space on the floor of my garage used to be my signature creative style. My studio was always covered with materials, paints, and scraps of unfinished work. It was a lovely space where I could escape and really focus on my work.

Today, I’m living in a house with a husband and two children, so I no longer have a space of my own to create my art.

This is the biggest block for me.

I’m not joking when I say it’s been two years of creative block, can you believe it? Creative blocks happen to everyone, no matter how far along you are in your journey as an artist.

It’s all to do with environment and space, for me.

My environment has changed, and even when I feel inspired to create I feel like I’m limited by the space I (don’t) have.

How do I overcome this?

I’ve finally come around to the idea of adapting my art to my environment. Instead of creating these massive paintings, I’ve realised I can still create something; get back into sketching, drawing, something simple to get started again.

The Most Common Creative Block Causes

I got with my good friend Sharon recently and we talked about our experiences with creative block.  The only way to remove a block is to find the cause.

We’ve listed some of the biggest causes, so you can shine a light on the cause of your block and free yourself.

You Don’t Have the Time

Between your job, kids, friends, and family your time is already spread thin. Making time for your art seems silly because you’re not even sure you’re going to make money from it.

This is the most common block and it’s also the most untrue!

We all have the same amount of time, it’s how we choose to spend our time that’s important.

If you don’t have time for your art, it’s time to prioritise.  Write a list of the jobs that are occupying your time….are they more important than your art? If not they need to come further down the list of priorities.

Schedule time in your diary/calendar so you have dedicated time to your art.  Find a time of the day that suits you best.  I know this is hard if you have a family (or other commitments), I have a 2 year old and 3 year old, it can be crazy.

Try and form a habit and find time daily, weekly or monthly.  Once the habit kicks in, you will do it automatically.

Ask yourself if you are actually busy or if you’re avoiding something? Sometimes ‘not having enough time’ is a reason we tell ourselves when we actually fear something, we will talk more about that in a minute.

Don’t feel obligated to make art that doesn’t feed your creativity. Find your true passion, because when you truly find ‘your thing’ you will bounce out of bed everyday seeking inspiration and you will make time for it.

Finding your way and experimenting is what life is about.

“Telling yourself you don’t have enough time creates that reality in your head. You will always crave more time and will continue to feel stuck.

Make a rule where you don’t put limits on yourself, instead tell yourself you have lots of time.”

You Don’t Have the Space

Space is so important, luckily there are lots of ways to work around this.

You can rent a shared space to start. Create a small corner in your house that is dedicated to your art. Even if it’s a chair in your kitchen, or a corner of your bed at least it’s yours!

Next, change the art you’re creating to fit the realistic space you have, like I did.

I used to work in my garage, but now that’s gone I work in the dining room.  I’ve started drawing at a smaller scale because I don’t need much room.  I know this won’t be a permanent thing, but at least I’m still creating.

Also, a shed is a great idea.  This creates a space outside the home.

You aren’t Inspired by Your Environment or Choice of Work

Lack of inspiration can be gained by breaking your routine. So, get out of the house, take in nature, and listen to music that inspires you. Experiment with different things until you find what you’re triggered by. Then, surround yourself with what you need to get going!

Music is a great trigger, if you play the same kind of music every time you are in the zone, that music will then put you back in the zone when you hear it again later.

It may be the work you are creating isn’t inspiring you.  Maybe you have a commission and you can’t get into the groove.  If this happens, move away and work on something that lights the fire in your belly.  Get back to working in a way that makes you happy and free, then return to the commission with fresh eyes.

Remember, the commission will only be successful if you are able to free yourself of constraints and let your individuality shine.

You’re Afraid

This is so normal and very common.

In fact, if you don’t feel fear, you’re not pushing yourself far enough.

Sitting in your comfort zone limits you from developing as a person, and especially as an artist. You can’t get to the next level with your art without putting yourself out there.

Fear is actually a sign you’re doing something worthwhile.

It could be a fear of greatness. Your negative voice, your ego, is telling you it’s impractical to win a competition or make a living from your art. So you’re uncomfortable and you self sabotage.

Quiet this voice by taking little baby steps and challenging yourself in small ways.

I see so many people shy away from greatness because they don’t believe in themselves.  Are you one of those people who have lots confidence in your ability? Maybe you’re scared what people think?

You have to ask yourself ‘what’s the worst that can happen? You have to take the leap otherwise you will never know.

We hate seeing potential talent being hidden away, if you feel like you are sick of letting fear paralyse you and you want to turn your passion into art, have a look at our course Make your Mark as we wrote it for people just like you!

Make your Mark is a 12 week course that takes you back to basics.  It’s about choosing a theme of work you can focus your attention on.  It’s about research, play, fun and experimenting.

It’s a course to help you re-connect with your why and your passion.  It will give you the foundations to go on and create a really strong portfolio of work.

Click below to Learn More about Make Your Mark 2017

Fear of rejection

You’re not even willing to start because you think your art will never be as good as it should be. Then you’re afraid of what people will say about you or your art, because you secretly believe it will never be good enough.

There will always be people who don’t like your work, no matter what you’re doing. So the trick is the more you put yourself out there the more you will expose yourself to the people who love your work!

Then you can surround yourself with people who believe in you so when you get those negative comments, and everyone does, you have support and encouragement you need to carry on.

Shine a light on this block by not comparing your work to others. Create with a goal to create, not to be perfect or to please other people.


We’re all human, aren’t we? At the end of the day, none of us are perfect. So get that thought out of your head.

I read a great quote recently by a very well know artist’s mentor, Pascal Anson.  His advice is ‘Don’t try and get it prefect, perfectionism is bad’

Sometimes you get so caught up in apiece of work that naturally you are critical as you are trying to improve the piece as you work on it.  This then blocks you from seeing the good in the work.  You focus on what is wrong with the work.  This is why being part of a community is so valuable, when you share it in a group like, The Virtual Art Studio, people view your work with fresh eyes.  We are not looking at you work looking to be critical; we are looking for the good.  Always give others a chance to enjoy your work as you are going to be your worst critic!

You Lack Purpose 

If you are aimlessly creating for no reason you can lose motivation fast. It’s natural instinct for us to need goals and work against deadlines so we have accountability.

Being in a community and continuing to educate yourself will give you deadlines, guidance, and purpose.

Try setting a time limit for completing a simple drawing or other small projects.  See how much you can get done in 4 minutes, even you’re not happy with the outcome. It’s a good way to warm up the creative side of your brain.

If this is an area  you really struggle with, our course, Make Your Mark, gives you purpose.  We have written it so you have goals to work towards.  The course is all about finding your true creative path and within that we draw out your talent by giving you regular tasks and feedback.  Sharon, who teaches the course will be there every step of the way.  She has taught over 3000 art students in her time and has taught ages between 16 to 89!! She will be there to give you support and feedback, the course is for all abilities (so no thinking you’re not good enough).

Click below to Learn About Make Your Mark 2017



You’re Overwhelmed

You have a massive to-do list because you never say no to anything. Letting people down is a big fear of yours, so you’re always taking on more than you can possibly finish.

Solve this by being realistic with your time and energy. Get a plan, a schedule, and stick to it.

Ditch the massive to-do list. Start saying no, and park all the ideas floating around in your head.

”Extraordainary results are directly determined by how narrow you make your focus” – Gary Keller


By multitasking and trying to do a million tasks a day, you are going to burn out and every day you will feel you haven’t really achieved anything.

Narrow your focus, have a main work goal, family goal & personal goal and stick with it.  If you are asked to do things that take you away from your goal, say no.

Emotionally Exhausted

Creating art is personal and emotional. Thinking about bringing yourself to the place where you can create art is overwhelming.  You don’t know where to start.

The thought of making something worthwhile or significant is intimidating.

Try starting with the intention of creating something that no one will ever see, something just for you. It doesn’t need to be big or beautiful, maybe try and make something as ugly as you can!

Break the patterns in your mind.

Maybe your emotions are distracted by other overwhelming events in your life. When hardship or even tremendous happiness comes into our world, our creative side can clam up.

This can be used to create a completely different type of art than you’re used to. As the late Carrie Fischer said, “Take your broken heart, turn it into art.”

There’s no reason these emotions can’t be used to fuel your creativity, even if it’s in a way you didn’t expect.

Embrace the overwhelm and use it as the momentum behind your art.

You are more powerful than your block


Remember that you are in control of your mind. This block is mental, they always are.

Your mind and your will are stronger than your block. Once you understand what’s stopping you, you have the power to remove it from your life and move forward to create.

There is unique talent in all of us, some people are born with it and some people work hard for it.  We hate seeing potential talent being hidden away, which is why we created Make your Mark.

Make your Mark is about finding your passions and turning them into art .  Stop telling yourself you’re not good enough, or you don’t have time.  You are and you can do it!  We believe in you and your potential is our passion!

We hope you’ll join us for Make Your Mark 2017!

Love Michelle (and Sharon)

Thanks for Joining!