As a designer, brand builder, and founder of a design agency, I can confidently say that “creative block” is real.
I find the creative journey full of peaks and valleys. Sure, there are days when the ideas flow like water. However, there are also moments when you feel uninspired or lost. In those moments, it can be challenging and frustrating to deal with the mercurial nature of creativity. It’s like trying to run to the park on a Peloton Tread in the dark basement.
Over the years, through trial and error, I have found actions that work whenever I find myself in a creative rut. I’m hoping these ideas and practices can help you come out of the basement and find your park, your creative inspiration.
From one creative to another, here are ten tips.
Your outer world is a direct reflection of your inner world. For me, the more organized I am with my work, finances, personal life, etc., the better I feel mentally and creatively.
Nowadays, it’s no secret that many of us work from home. If my surroundings are in order, I have my designated workspace, and I am free to create. Chaotic surroundings can block imagination. In my experience, getting organized gives me space to be creative.
Stuck at the same desk in the same room surrounded by the same “stuff” can make me feel dull or tired.
I find stepping outside (even for 10 minutes) refreshes me. So, go out and take in some fresh air. I love my work, but I make it a priority to golf and surf frequently. Because of my (outdoor) hobbies, I know I’m a more productive person, involved co-worker, and helpful mentor. And I know that my slightly psycho, hyperactive dog benefits from it too.
You’ll be surprised how soaking in nature can reset and refocus your brain. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective and inspiration flows.
Just a Little Caffeine
The oldest trick in the book. I’m a coffee lover, and, for me, caffeine and creativity seem to go hand in hand. I make pour-over coffee in the morning and often enjoy a cup of Earl Grey in the afternoon to get the creative juices flowing.
There’s nothing quite like the uneasy feeling of a fast-approaching deadline to really get you in the zone. I have often found that procrastination can get worse when you give yourself too much freedom (time-wise).
That’s why giving yourself strict deadlines will pressure you into breaking the pattern of procrastination and smash your creative blocks. Truthfully, some of my best work has been on tight deadlines.
Listening to Music
Science tells us that listening to music releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s “motivation and reward mechanism.” Listening to music that thrills you, energizes you, moves you, will give you that boost, that juice to create.
So, if you don’t mind, Alexa, play Discovery Weekly.
Sketching & Drawing
That’s right, step away from the computer and grab a sketchpad. I often doodle and free-hand sketch for a logo and/or visual identity projects. The awesome designer and dude Aaron Draplin makes this a core part of every one of his projects.
And don’t worry about the final outcome. Give yourself the freedom to move the pencil around freely. Great ideas can come from experimentation without worrying about the end result. Have fun and you might be surprised.
Sleeping on it
Long hours tend to be a core part of designing, unfortunately. Stepping away from a project to sleep on it, most likely, will prepare you for success the next day. Putting a project to the side for the night, often opens the door and solves the riddle in the morning.
If Jeff Bezos can manage 8-hours of sleep every night, so can you.
Fill Your Life With Interesting People
Be curious, seek and you'll find a crazy, colorful world out there, full of interesting people. People with ideas and experiences and lives different from yours.
Having a dialogue with other creative people can give you new viewpoints and opportunities to expand your world. Ask questions and try seeing outside your peripheral. Challenging the way you think will challenge your creative boundaries.
Be Fearless of Failure
The only way to overcome your fear of failure is to change how you view your failures. Generally, we think that failures are the roadblocks to success when failures can be stepping stones to achieving your goals.
The more you dare to fail and accept it as an indispensable part of your learning journey, the stronger you will get at your craft.
Believing in Your Ability
Even the most talented, successful individuals feel insecure from time to time. Reaffirm your faith in yourself. Study your successes but also evaluate your failures, take a realistic look at your abilities and strive to learn new skills. You will grow in your abilities and that will raise you up.
Give yourself a pep talk from time to time. And appreciate and compliment the work others do. Generosity goes a long way and often comes back to you.
So to wrap it up…
Which of these practices resonated the most with you? I would love to know.
If you have your own ideas on how you get creative, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.