How to cure creative block

Submitted by on the 11th of February 2016

It’s Design Indaba this month and one of Cerebra’s famous alumni is speaking at this year’s conference. Chanel Cartell, former Cerebra creative director, has been travelling the world with her partner, Stevo Dirnberger.

The creative process is an interesting thing. Everyone has their own methodologies, their own banks they visit for inspiration, and their own preferred times of day to get in the zone. Yet, as creative beings, we are all driven by this need to create; this need to make a mark and take what is in our head and put it out into the world. And, wow, it’s amazing when it happens. Whether it’s a new song we’ve written, a new move we’ve mastered, or new illustration style we’ve created. It’s surreal when we see it come to life.

Sometimes, however, we hit a rut. We get stuck and we don’t feel the inspiration we once felt. We get bored, and we may even look at our work and hate it, thinking either that it’s nothing special, or that it looks like all the other work we’ve created before.

It is at this point, where we need to shake things up. We need to do things differently, look at our world differently, and find a new source of stimulation.

By traveling, or breaking away from the things we call ‘home’ (‘home’ metaphorically meaning anything safe and comfortable,) we challenge our minds to view things through a different lens. We’re shaken up and suddenly we’re using a different part of our brain. Our innate creativity is required to be put to use, as we find ourselves needing to adapt to the new surroundings and new stimuli.

Travel makes you uncomfortable. It forces you to listen to your gut and adapt to the new environment. It drives you to experience new things and therefore sponge new things. Travel is the best method to rejig your creativity, no matter how far, or how long, you intend to go for.

What am I actually saying?

No, this is not an advertisement for global travel (although I do highly recommend it). I simply want to bring across the point that keeping still, breeds no innovation. Everything alive in this world moves, however subtly, as it flows with the giant forces of energy within. Creativity is a little bit..nay, A LOT, like this. The creative spark we each possess (and yes, we do all possess it) is constantly pulsating, constantly breathing, and constantly looking to expand. By getting outside, getting uncomfortable, and going on a mission to explore unfamiliar territories, we’re simply feeding our creative spark and allowing it to grow.

So go get out there! Choose a place that is completely unfamiliar to you. It is all relative of course, so depending on where and how you grew up, and what you call ‘home’, your destination will be chosen based on what is foreign and somewhat scary for you. We, for example, grew up in sunny South Africa, in city bustle always surrounded by thousands of people. When we chose our locations for our creative sabbatical, we quite literally, went for the polar opposite side of the world, spending 5 weeks living in Norway, in a town of not more than a few hundred people. We went from living in a clean, luxurious apartment that had sunshine beaming through, to a room in a wooden cabin that had been converted from a store room, surrounded by ice, snow, and muddy forests. The further you can get from your proverbial comfort zone, the better. If you’ve always preferred small crowds (or no crowds) than choosing somewhere chaotic and busy (like a weekend market) would be ideal.

You want to challenge yourself to do something that would make you feel uncomfortable and somewhat frightened. Fear and discomfort drive us to adapt in creative ways, so it is by pushing ourselves into these uncomfortable scenarios that we allow our true creative potential to peer through.

To follow along as we explore the world, visit howfarfromhome.com or @HowFarFromHome on Instagram.