• 5 Common Creativity Killers + How to Overcome Them

    You can probably relate to one of the five “creativity killers” outlined in this blog post. Maybe they’ve discouraged you in the past, but you can use the tips in the post to stave them off in the future!

    5 Common Creativity Killers + How to Overcome Them | The Postman's Knock

    I’m sure that you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’re working on an exciting creative project, and then one of the five creativity killers below strikes. From discouraging words to unexpected problems to a hectic schedule, there are lots of things that can throw off your creative equilibrium. If you can relate, read on!

    1. Discouraging Words

    Most people — myself included — are eager to please, and when it’s clear that someone isn’t happy with your work, it can be vastly disappointing. Due to the public nature of this blog, I have, of course, seen my share of discouraging words! For example, someone once accidentally responded to a blog post email of mine — a mail art tutorial, I think — when she actually meant to forward it to a friend. In the email, she wrote something like, “Her calligraphy isn’t up to our standards, but sometimes she has some okay ideas.”

    Two Hours, Four Fancy Envelopes
    Everyone sees things differently! To some, this calligraphy may look impressive. To others, it doesn’t look so great!

    How to Overcome Discouraging Words:

    I have to share with you the most amazing quote that I’ve ever heard. At university, I had a friend named Titi (pronounced “Tee Tee”). One day, she told me about a disagreement she’d had with someone. She ended the story with this gem: “And you know, Lindsey, that’s when I realized: you just can’t be everyone’s cup of Titi.”

    5 Common Creativity Killers + How to Overcome Them | The Postman's Knock
    My friend Pam made this pendant necklace for me — I love it because it reminds me of Titi’s spot-on philosophy!

    There are so many people in the world with so many different tastes! You can’t please everyone, and it is of utmost importance to remember that, regardless of who it is you haven’t pleased. So, next time anyone says something discouraging about a project or a skill of yours, remember: “You just can’t be everyone’s cup of Titi.”

    2. Projects That Don’t Turn Out As You’d Hoped

    We hold ourselves to very high standards, so when projects don’t turn out looking magazine-worthy, it’s easy to get frustrated. You might think, “You know what, I’m just not good at this,” and give up. Before you throw in the towel, though, remember that no one churns out perfect work all the time. I, personally, have created many ink-spattered, juvenile-looking projects with strange color schemes. I just shrugged, learned what I could from the project, and moved on.

    An Early Calligraphy Attempt | The Postman's Knock
    Every project that doesn’t end up being perfect serves as a building block for your creative skills. This is a faux calligraphy piece of mine from 2012. After I finished, I realized it looked less professional than I had hoped, so I started over.

    How to Overcome Botched Projects:

    First of all, remember that a less-than-awesome project doesn’t define you as a creator. No matter how good someone is at something, there will always be off days! Then, pick up your supplies and try again. Every botched project is a gift, after all: it shows you what not to do. So, when you go to make the project the second time around, implement what you learned during your first attempt. If you’re new to the techniques used for the project you messed up on, remember that everyone starts somewhere.

    3. Not Having Specific Supplies

    Not having the funds or the geographic location to get your hands on certain supplies can be very discouraging. Still, you can’t let that keep you from pursuing projects or skills that you think you might enjoy.

    "You Made This?!" Lily Drawing Tutorial
    This watercolor-esque lily was actually created using a black gel pen and water. The gold watercolor in it is optional! Find the tutorial here.

    How to Overcome Not Having Specific Supplies:

    We are actually at our most creative when we have to improvise. You can always find a workaround to get results, and you will probably create a project variation that you like better than the original! For example, if you want to create brush pen calligraphy but you don’t have brush pens, you can use regular broad-tipped markers. No dip pen? Make faux calligraphy. From using crayons to make wax seals to DIYing your own envelope liners with scrap paper, there’s almost always a workaround!

    4. Unexpected Problems

    No matter what kind of project you choose to take on, there are always things that can go wrong. From paint spills to calligraphy misspellings to bleeding ink, there are lots of variables that can sabotage a project.

    Common Calligraphy Ink Problems + Solutions | The Postman's Knock
    Want to know what to do if your ink won’t stop saturating your paper fibers? Check out the Common Calligraphy Ink Problems + Solutions blog post!

    How to Overcome Unexpected Problems:

    Immediately after the project sabotage occurs, you’ll probably feel a lot of frustration. It’s maddening to spend time and effort on something, only to have it be ruined by an external force like spilled ink! First, take some time to cool off if you can. Try to get at least a few hours of distance from the project. Then, see if there’s a way to fix the error. If there isn’t, take a deep breath and start re-doing it. The key to dealing with unexpected problems is patience and perseverance!

    5. A Hectic Schedule

    As the mother of a four-year-old and an eight-month-old, I get not having time to make projects. Lack of time is perhaps the strongest creativity killer. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, painting a masterpiece or writing long lines of calligraphy probably isn’t very appealing.

    How to Balance Life and Making Art
    I love my children like crazy — but I definitely don’t have the “me time” that I used to allocate for making art in my pre-kid days. You can read about my tips for balancing creativity + kids/life in this article.

    How to Overcome a Hectic Schedule:

    If you’re feeling stressed, doing something creative can help you to relax! Rather than add stress to your day, the project should take away stress. With that in mind, I’d recommend creating short projects that require a modest amount of time and energy. The short projects could add up to something bigger — like working in a sketchbook journal — or they could be a one-time thing, like a quick piece of ampersand art. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do something creative every day. When creativity becomes something that exhausts rather than rejuvenates you, that’s a problem! Just take it easy, and fit in projects whenever you want to and your schedule allows.

    This post had to be a little vague by nature because “creativity” means different things to different people. The point of writing it, however, is to let you know that everyone deals with roadblocks! If you have any tips, input, or questions, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. What was the latest creativity killer that you encountered, and how did you deal with it?

    Thanks very much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your day!


    Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock

    This article was first posted in October of 2017. It has been updated to include new photos and updated information.