How to beat the creative block

It’s nearing the end of term; deadlines are looming and the days are only going to get shorter. If you’re anything like me, then you’ll resent the fact that you spend the vast majority of time doing reading for an essay and not having any idea what it’s on about.

If you’re a creative type, being swamped with academic work and reading can be stifling, as you probably feel as though you never get the chance to just take a day to do something you really enjoy, without being assessed for it. But when it seems like 24 hours just isn’t enough time to do all your work for university and get creative on the side, how do we ensure that we get to do what we love and stay sane at the same time?

I started writing this piece because I’d been doing long shifts in the library, as well as working part-time between several jobs. I’m in my final year here at Leeds and unfortunately things are starting to get serious. If I’m not thinking about my dissertation, which in all honesty haunts about 90% of my daily thoughts, I’m looking frantically at graduate jobs, master’s degrees or panicking that nothing will work out for me and I’ll be thrown out in the world next year with nothing to cushion the fall.

As a way of distracting myself from the inevitability of real life, I’ve spent the last few months trying to work out what makes my creative block disappear and how I can find time to integrate all the creative things I love in to the remaining hours I have in the day.

The first step is to accept that you’re going to have to put in work for university, but if it’s possible, you can tailor your studies to cater for your more creative side. I’m not sure if this works for every degree, but as a history student I have quite a bit of leniency in what I can study. My specialist subject looks at the social and cultural history of the USSR and for my dissertation I’ll be looking at film, fashion and music in the Soviet Union. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but being able to analyse the things I enjoy makes the thought of a 12,000 word dissertation slightly more bareable.

Ok, so this point might be a little idealist, but one thing I’ve found that works for me is keeping my weekends completely free of university work. Of course, the thought of doing this when you’ve got a midday deadline the following Monday might seem a little daunting, but just being a bit more organised will mean you can do whatever you want when the weekend comes around.

Don’t wait until the week before to start reading for an essay, if you’ve got time, get it done. You’ve undoubtedly heard it all before but you’ll thank yourself later. Just make sure to take time off at the weekend to draw, paint, photograph or whatever else. I just can’t stress enough how important it is to destress and partake in something you really enjoy.

Getting rid of the creative block is difficult, but never impossible. University often makes us feel like creativity should be repressed in favour of academic work, but arguably it’s creativity, imagination and originality that really keeps our minds working.

Lauren Davies

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