Person writes on a notepad with a pencil. There is a cup of coffee next to them.

January 20, 2020, by UoN School of English

Having a ‘creative block’? How to stay creative when immersed in an academic world.

The University of Nottingham is a brilliant place. We are spoiled with an academic environment full of specialists, passionate about the subjects they teach. We are encouraged to read deeply and broadly, be inquisitive, be critical, be this and be that. I sometimes find myself so focused on the academic side of the course that I feel somewhat drained when it comes to being creative. When your mind is full of referencing or citations or secondary reading, it can feel like the creative juices have literally been squeezed out of you. For someone who loves creative writing, as a part of my course and in my free time, this is a problem. ‘Writer’s block’, or a ‘creative block’ more generally (if you’re one of those lucky people that is good at art) is a real thing. It is something I experience quite a lot, and therefore consider myself a bit of an expert at overcoming. Here are my three P’s for creative inspiration, which will hopefully get those juices back flowing!

The 3 P’s for Inspiration…

A group of four friends hugging on a mountain.

Photo credit: Helena Lopes


When talking with people, fully immerse yourself in the conversation. Be curious. Be passionate. Ask questions. Use the people around you as stimuli to get you thinking creatively. It might sound a bit odd, but trust me, it works.


Find spots which make YOU feel creative. It might be somewhere quiet and peaceful. Or perhaps somewhere full of hustle and bustle.

An open laptop, notepad and pen laid out on a table with a mug next to them.

Photo credit: Nick Morrison


Force yourself to be creative. Use short periods of time that you find yourself having and practice your creative outlet, whether that is poetry, fiction writing, drawing, singing etc. Let yourself enjoy time off academic work, don’t feel guilty about it. Learning to switch off from a critical way of thinking and adopt a more creative approach is certainly a skill, one which I am yet to master, but will continue to practice!

Emily Hall is a third year English student at the University of Nottingham. She’s the Head of Features for Impact Magazine and a Features contributor for Her Campus. You can find her on Instagram @emi1ly_hall.

Posted in Tips/Advice/Guidance