My 3 Tips for Dealing with Creative Overload

Sketching Locations Isle of Skye Scotland

The antithesis of a creative block is creative overload. Too many ideas and possibilities can be equally as paralysing as an ideas drought, because you’re spending your time bouncing thoughts around and not following any of them through.

It’s something that happens to me far more than a creative block, yet I rarely mention it because it feels like a brag: “I’ve so many ideas I don’t know what to do with them all.” But, I’m discovering, idea overload is another of those artistic elephants in the room, often masquerading as “Oh I don’t know, I just like to paint everything“.

So how, amidst the noise of ideas, do you find focus? Here’s what I do:

Creativity Overload Tip 1: Empty Your Brain of Ideas
Create an ideas sketchbook, one in which you write and/or sketch all those ideas buzzing around. It gets it out of your head and means you won’t loose it (though you may forget it and rediscover it when you page through your sketchbook. It can help clarify an idea as you move it from thought to paper.

Creativity Overload Tip 2: Pick One Idea, Any One
At some stage you’re going to have to choose, so just pick one idea and run with it for a while. Don’t overcomplicate the choice, choose something, anything, and get painting. If need be, open your ideas sketchbook at random and jab your finger down on a page and use that idea. (And by a while I mean weeks, not hours.)

Creativity Overload Tip 3: Tick Two Boxes
Simply because you’ve got going with one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t change. You can tick two or three different art boxes, be it subject, style, medium, and swap between these. But don’t go at it like a yo-yo, back and forth rapidly and constantly. Give yourself time to pursue, develop, fail, continue before changing gear. Conversely, if you find yourself bored and fiddling, swap to the other box. I tend to do it with mediums (paint vs pencil vs sewing) and surfaces (canvas vs paper) before subject.

Creative Ideas Overload

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