Overcoming the good ol’ creative constipation

Zeeshan Akram Jabeer
5 min readSep 23, 2018


Creative-Block by Senne Trip

The laxative you’ve been looking for to decongest your creative block.

If you’re anything like me, you probably spend the right amount of your time daydreaming or mind-crafting ideas.

May it be a catchy slogan, a campaign idea, an inbound marketing strategy or a thought-provoking concept for a film or more critical existential queries like how you can’t hum while holding your nose or how when you think about your brain, it’s just your brain is thinking about itself. (Yeah. mind-blowing, I know)

As a creative director, it's easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day, to feel uninspired, frustrated, and even depressed. This is rather inconvenient when you rely on creativity to pay the bills or more so, give life purpose.

In this shitstorm, we call life, It’s easy to drown yourself in a prolonged state of mental constipation or commonly referred to as creator's block.

Here are 8 types of creative blocks and solutions for them from my personal experiences.

1. Clarity before creativity

In most cases, the cause of creators' block isn’t the lack of ideas or the inability to come up with one, but rather misunderstanding or not knowing the project well enough to know what you’re supposed to come up with.

The best way to avoid this is to list down the project goals and make sense of what you’re trying to achieve, or rather, it would be a case of finding the elusive light switch in the dark.

2. Switch up your socks

Just because you can’t come up with something doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t work on anything else.

I’m personally guilty of this one. As a perfectionist, I relentlessly give my 100% on every project I work on and when I’m stuck and incapable of progressing or ‘hitting the spot’, it just stresses me out.

It took me a while before I realized that if I just worked on something else, it would give me the sense of progression and even the feeling of achievement and that could even be the positive reinforcement you needed all along to kickstart your stalled project.

3. Break-free

It's only human to be barricaded by emotional barriers, may it be problems in your relationships, at work, or at home. In situations like this, it’s easy to be clouded by your thoughts and find yourself incapable of getting anything done.

Always try your best to resolve all problems before they start affecting your quality of work.

4. Ignite the flame in you

Do you know that little tingle that leads to a spine-shivering rush of motivation when you read an inspiring success story or watch a documentary?

Sometimes the best way to re-motivate yourself is to read up on someone you admire. This could open your eyes to the perspectives and experiences of another and help you map out your actions based on the setbacks and successes of another.

5. Trust your intuition

Being content with what you do is imperative.

A few months ago I was working at a prestigious media company, it had a great environment along with significant pay but regardless it just didn’t feel right. I had the sense that I wasn’t in the right place, and that had me stressed, disoriented, unmotivated, and overall incapable of creating anything that satisfied me. As a 21-year-old, I was confused and everyone I spoke to wanted me to stick with it and not ‘overthink’, none of this was useful feedback, but eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and I quit.

At this point, I came to a realization, that being content with what you do is the most critical aspect of working as a creative, being able to be imaginative and to create freely, is what gives me purpose.

If you feel the same way, re-evaluate your professional goals, it’s never too late to take a leap of faith.

6. Reminisce

Whenever I feel stagnant, a little under-accomplished and I find myself sulking I prefer to sit down and take out a piece of paper or pull out google keep and make a list of all my career-based accomplishments from the inception to where I am now.

Not only does it make you feel good about yourself, but it also reminds you of the hardships and joyful moments that led you here. In a day and age where all you are judged are by the number of followers, likes, and comments, it’s easy to be challenged by self-doubt.

If ever you feel unworthy, take that list out and remind yourself of how silly you were to even doubt yourself for a second. You’re greatness in the making, all you need is a reminder.

7. Information overdrive

Like the Spice Girls once said, “ Too much of something is bad enough”. When you’ve got too many bright ideas gushing through you, along with commitments you can’t keep up and the sense of trying to maximize your time, you’ll quickly fall prey to being overwhelmed and paralyzed by both obligations and options.

Personally, this is dear to me as I try to juggle as much as possible and find myself incapable exhausted from working too hard for way too long. The solution to this is to pick your poison and execute a few at a time while the rest are put away for a later time.

8. Take some time off

Maybe Tumblr quotes aren’t that bad. As corny as it sounds, sometimes you have to take a break. Step outside of your normal environment and before you know it you’ll find yourself inspired, flowing with creativity, and generally, by the most obscene things, that’ll leave your perspective changed forever.

We all go through a rollercoaster of emotions. What’s important is to know when you’re stagnant and to get off your ass and push yourself to infinity and beyond. Ironically, it took me a week to piece this together, I hope these tips of mine help someone, somewhere.

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Zeeshan Akram Jabeer

Founder, Paradeim — Helping ​brands better-communicate through podcasts. Creative Director & Documentary Filmmaker.