When I sit down to illustrate, time usually disappears and I find myself in a state of flow. Needless to say, that state is really pleasureful; so, it would logically follow that I spend hours every day doing nothing but illustrating. Not so. In fact, I often feel frustrated when I discover that it’s already late afternoon and I haven’t yet sat down to illustrate! I feel like there are many valid reasons why my illustrating sessions get pushed later into the day. But, sometimes I think the fundamental reason is still an underlying fear of failure – basically, a creative block. So in this post I’ll give 5 tips for how to overcome creative block.

5 Tips for How to Overcome Creative Block

  1. Any creative work requires fresh energy and perspective. Figure out when you feel the most energetic, then actually pencil in your creative session into your daily calendar.
  2. Habits are formed by repetition. Once you’ve determined your ideal time for creating, commit to it. It might take two months or more for your newly scheduled creative sessions to become routine. But, once the habit is established, you might even find yourself looking forward to it.
  3. Set aside your inner critic. Creativity is a process and the time to write the review is not while you’re creating!
  4. Commit to finishing each and every illustration. I’ve discovered that there’s often an arc to my creative work. Sometimes I start an illustration tentatively, then realize halfway through that the process has taken on a life of its own and the illustration is looking even better than I expected! Other times, I start the illustration with an idea in mind only to find that at the halfway point my illustration is looking like rubbish. In both cases, if I stick with finishing the illustration, I’m usually surprised by the result – and, often pleasantly so.
  5. Keep all your illustrations. Yes, I do eventually cull out the duds (more than a few of my illustrations have been fed to the shredding truck each year at our building’s annual shredding event!); that said, it usually takes me a year or more to really “see” the merits (and defects) with objectivity for each illustration.

Case in Point…

Here’s a freehand drawn ink illustration that followed a bit of the “rubbish” arc I described above:

How to overcome creative block - freehand ink teacup illustration as an example of sticking with it - by Joana Miranda

I really had to fight the urge today not to abandon this illustration halfway through. But I’m glad I didn’t. Now I’m actually looking forward to adding the watercolor to it tomorrow!


Sometimes it takes more than just an objective perspective to “see” your work. These days I’m having to resort to more creative workarounds to actually see well. Here’s what I’ve found to be helpful:

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

Thomas Merton


  1. Jen says:

    I have similar vision issues. I’m glad you found a pair that works for you!

    • Joana says:

      Hi Jen,

      When I finish this batch of contacts (which I’ve been actually trying to stretch out for financial reasons) I’ll be moving to a different prescription. My new prescription will have one eye at a lower correction than I’d normally use; this way I will see up close with one eye, while the other eye will still have my usual correction for distance. I did a trial of the new prescription for about 5 days and think that I will eventually be able to adjust to the “uneven vision.” It is a little odd at first, though I did appreciate not having to wear the readers. 🙂

      Looking forward to talking with you again soon!
      XOX – Joana

  2. Mm says:

    Hey, skinny face, I love your skinny face with glasses! And I love your shirt, too!

    • Joana says:

      Why thank you, Mm! I’m glad you like my skinny face (it’s partly YOUR fault after all!)
      xox – J

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