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5 Ways to Break Through a Creative Block

Imagine a high-octane, in-your-face sports hype video filled with motion graphics and moving at the pace of a booming music track. Now imagine a powerful, emotional video that pulls you in and personally invests you into what you’re seeing. What about an inspirational origin story that explains how an idea was brought to life by an ambitious entrepreneur. The end result for all of these might be captivating and full of excitement, but the process to get there can end up being more complicated than originally planned.  Between organizing, sub-clipping, cutting and color correcting the footage of a project – you may feel like you’re up against a wall. A wall that creates such a block that it seems easier to go back down and give up than to push forward. What do you do when you arrive at such a point? Here are five ways I use for breaking through those creative blocks. 

One: Go For A Walk

A quick walk is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reinvigorate your mind and body. Taking a walk outside can allow your mind to flow freely while giving it a literal breath of fresh air. Or if the weather outside isn’t the best (like the usually cold and gray months of winter here in Akron) then even a walk around your workspace can get the productive blood pumping. This is especially helpful when you’re color correcting footage. There have been many times when I’m tweaking color and can’t get it to look exactly how I desire. In those situations, the fresh perspective that I gain while away from the footage can provide me with a clearer thought process upon return.

Two: Visit Your Well of Inspiration

Everyone has a certain hobby or activity that can immediately get them to feel inspired. For some this might be visiting an art museum, reading a book or going to the theater. For others, it could be as simple as browsing the internet. When I find myself struggling to come up with something new, I like to look up music videos in particular. Music videos can be some of the most creative and stylistically unique pieces in all of the video field. They constantly help me come up with new ideas or techniques to try and achieve something that I’ve never done before. 

Three: Switch Out The Music Track

Sometimes changing the music track can give you a brand new perspective on a project that feels like it’s going stale. When visuals are synced with a music track it can make it a much more engaging experience for the viewer. Likewise, if you find yourself getting bored by a particular track, odds are that the viewer will too. That’s why a new track can really open another door to an edit by giving you more beats and musical elements to edit to. You may even need to try out multiple music tracks until you arrive at one that truly inspires you. It can be a time intensive process to find this perfect track, but it saves you a lot of time and effort later during the editing process.

Four: Try Working on Another Project

If you don’t have a tight deadline, you could take some time away from the project that you’re stuck on and work on something else instead. Maybe you have another project that has a different feel to it and can provide you with a new way of thinking. Even when you’re doing something else entirely, your mind will keep thinking about your previous project so that the next time you revisit it you might have a new spark. Sometimes truly the best thing to do for an edit is to sleep on it (but again, only if you have the time to do so). A new day can bring a fresh perspective to both you and the project that you’re working on. 

Five: Try Out Something Totally Different

When you’re really at the end of your rope and you’ve tried everything else, I recommend going with any creative ideas that come to mind. I know you’re probably saying, “But I don’t have any creative ideas for this project.” Even still, you can start plugging away with something that you might’ve been afraid to try. First and foremost though, make sure you save a new sequence so that you don’t end up doing anything that’s too irreversible. Don’t be overly critical on whether you think it will work or not - what’s most important is that you keep moving forward. When you reach the end result you might end up with some aspects that don’t work, but you could also end up with a look that you wouldn’t have tried otherwise. This kind of risk/reward outcome is why I would say to reserve this as a last resort, but know that it could still be effective.

Main Takeaways

Try to use each opportunity that you edit as a learning experience. Understand that not every project is going to be jam packed with excitement and that’s okay. Every field presents itself with tasks that are mundane and sometimes you have to trick yourself into making it more than what it is on the surface. I always try to think of it like this: being an editor comes with a lot of power. You’re deciding what’s shown and how it’s shown. The audience has no way of knowing what did or didn’t make the cut, so you have the ability to choose what you see as best for them. Of course, with this comes the responsibility of how to best serve the audience, but it’s still an opportunity nonetheless. Maybe the audience won’t agree with every edit that you have, but at the end of the day you were the one who had the privilege of editing it to your own taste.  By continually looking at ways to pick up new editing skills, you’ll consciously and subconsciously make your videos more interesting. Really push your limits and challenge yourself to make something that you’re proud of and could never have made before. You have to think of editing like any skill, as a muscle that needs exercising regularly and challenged in order to grow stronger. Your newfound skill and ingenuity can make the difference between a bland, boring video that puts everyone to sleep or something that inspires others with something that they’ve never seen before.  

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