The other day a friend working in a graphic design company called to ask if I would love some fresh pumpkins from the countryside. She said she had been to the village for two days and was traveling back to the city that evening. Knowing the amount of pressure she gets from her work I assumed that maybe there had been some emergencies she had to attend to. But as it turned out, there had been no emergency at home and everything was quite fine.
“I needed a quiet environment for some alone time to think and refill my creativity pot after hitting a creative block.” She explained amidst giggles after I insisted on knowing why she had to rush home in the middle of the week.
“Even designers get creative block? I thought that was a thing for us writers?” I was a little shocked.
“We do. Just like writers, we also run out of ideas and creativity. The countryside has always been a good environment for me to overcome my creative block.” She answered with energy in her voice.
I could tell that she had found what she went looking for. She pulled down all the walls barring her from reaching into her well of creativity at the back of her mind. Like writers or any other person in the creative industry, designers also struggle for ideas sometimes. Some days, a designer will feel so productive, inspired and bubbling with ideas, while on other days, they will be so frustrated over a small task that on a normal day, they wouldn’t even stop to think how to do it.
This is called a designer’s block, something that happens to every designer. Even to the most prominent designer you know of. The most frustrating thing is, a designer’s block could happen at any point in a project. Whether it’s the hardest project you’ve ever worked on or just another of your easy to crack projects. When it suddenly hits, you are likely to hit a wall for some time and not even all the coffee in your kitchen can shake it off.
In an industry where productivity and success depend on your creativity, a designer’s block is the worst experience for any designer. There is no cure to stop you from experiencing it, neither will staring or banging your computer makes the feeling to magically disappear. The good news is that as a designer, you can experience it but overcome it without beating yourself over it.
How about you try this the next time you feel like you have hit a creative dead end?
Try something new
Sometimes when we are good at what we do, leaving our comfort zones becomes intimidating. This is because a creative block is often a consequence of fear of failure. To succeed over failure, set aside what you’re working on and try something new. You can also try approaching the task in a different form different from the normal way. Go against the flow. It may not be the end you really want but it might snap you out of your block. Trying something different or a different approach helps to break the cliche in your working pattern. At the end of the day, you might discover a new idea or a better way of approaching the task at hand. For instance, if you are always doing all your designs on your computer, get off for sometimes and do some actual drawings or designs on paper.
Have some ‘Me time’
Working all the time on different projects without taking a break off designing can strangle your creativity. Taking some time off the endless projects for a couple of days to rest or have some time to yourself is very important to any creative. Many times when designers don’t get time their work, they end up being burned out and ran out of ideas. Turn to your hobby for some time just to recollect yourself and give your mind a break ad time to refresh. Watch a movie, read a book, binge TV, draw. Anything that works for you.
Sleep on it
If the task is not so demanding, it’s good to sleep on it sometimes. Having worked the whole day on the project or different projects, the mind is normally exhausted and may hit a halt. Sleeping over it may help you to come up with off-the-wall ideas overnight and be able to pull off the project excellently well. We’ve heard of the Eat, sleep and solve problems wellness theory. Its called the theta brain waves. Artists like Salvador Ali and other great thinkers understood that the ‘nodding off’ stage of sleep is the best time to let the creative juices flow. You have likely heard stories of people who have made great discoveries in their sleep. The ability to utilize sleep as a problem-solving technique is not only limited to a particular group of people, You are capable of making similar great discoveries in your sleep, so take some time off and sleep.
Revisit past projects
A designer’s block gives you the feeling that you cannot crack that particular design you’re working on. Revisiting past projects will remind you of projects you struggled with but managed to complete them and maybe, become the favorite projects you’ve ever worked on. Although you may be feeling stuck, past projects may be a good motivation that you can still produce something that your client will be happy with. It will remind you of the progress you have made and the ability you have to produce quality work. This will also challenge your perspective of ideas and who knows, your past project might be your savior of the day.
Get a new perspective from a different person
The solution to your creative block could be the person sitting right next to you. Ask them what they think about the project, talk to them about your situation and ask for help with the project or idea. A designer’s block can fuel feelings of doubt and incompetence. Talking to coworkers or fellow designers who understand your work will help you get the reassurance and come out with a much better designer. Fresh perspectives could be the key to unlocking the idea.
Have a digital detox
If you are the type of designer that spends the whole day glued to your computer screen, this is the time to walk away from it for some time. Take a break from your daily routine, take a quiet walk, take a nap or listen to some music away from your working desk. Detach yourself from the normal routine and you’ll be surprised how a different environment brings new flowing ideas. An environment away from your computer and routine may make you start looking at things differently and give you a different perspective on what you are working on.
Find a new source of inspiration
Are you always looking at a particular artist whose work you really admire? This is the time to check out other artists’ work, especially if their work is different from what you are used to. The inspiration you are looking for might be lying in a different designer’s work. So go ahead and not only look at your favorite artist’s work but other designers. Inspiration can be found anywhere, look beyond design or artwork. Look at something outside your work, watch a movie or a sport you have never watched. This may awaken your senses and uncover some of your greatest ideas.
Even a new Toyota land cruiser cannot function when it’s out of fuel. So does your body and brain! Your brain’s way of saying it needs to refuel might be through the designer’s block! Know when to refuel. Order your favorite food or drink, enjoy something healthy, jog off from your office desk or play a game that will put your brain off what you were working on for some time to give it room to re-energize and free up any limitations holding you back.
A designer’s block happens to many of us all the time. Next time you feel like you hit a creative dead end, read this article from the top. Whatever works for you, use it to walk out of your creative block like it never happened.
Did we leave out your trick on overcoming a designer’s block? What do you do when your creativity is hit by a sudden blackout? Share with us your experience.