Have you ever fired up your computing system , opened up your word processing application, eager and prepared to start out typing away on your keyboard, only to be seated and staring at a blank screen with no inspiration flowing? In this article, we discuss How to Overcome Creative Block as a Designer.
What is Creative Block?
Creative block can’t be defined satisfactorily since it’s an abstract perception or impression.
The sole definition that seems to be passable when it involves defining creative block is that it’s a performance anxiety state, a period during which a creative individual can’t get their imagination going due to barriers to inspiration and inability to access one internal creativity.
Creative blocks arises without warning and can be the result of a number of factors including.
- Mental exhaustion, Burnout
- Emotional drain when your mind is on something else.
- Physical drain, when your body is exhausted it can affect your mental state.
- Lack of motivation – Care about what you are doing, and understand why you are doing it.
- Severe criticism, or repeated rejection of your work.
- Self-doubt pertaining to both ability and talent.
- Imposter syndrome – When you compare yourself to others.
- Catastrophising – irrational thoughts, believing something is far worse than it actually is.
- Put under pressure. So much pressure is good, but too much can affect you mentally.
- Fear – Fear will always be there so embrace it because if you let it take you over it will slow self-improvement.
- The Knock-on effect – One kind of creative black can lead to another. Rejection can result in lack of motivation which can result in self-doubt etc.
Have you ever opened up your sketchbook, Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, set up your working canvas and colour palette, you start out brainstorming about the concepts you have in mind that you would like to try and no ideas are presenting them self, and nothing is surfacing either on paper or your digital canvas?
Welcome to the world of creative block, you my friend are experiencing just that, your stuck in a rut, and experiencing creative block!
First thing to remember is not to worry it happens to us all, and I have lost count of the times it has happened to me.
In fact when it does happen to me I just sit there and laugh as I know that the work I had planned for that block session isn’t happening there and then, I’m going to have to set another block session to come back and give it another go.
You may be thinking “Laugh you say!” “This is so frustrating!”, and boy don’t I know about it I have experienced it enough to know all about it, and that’s why I am writing this article to try and help you.
The important thing to remember is not to fight it as its going to swing back and hit you in the head even harder. When you fight it you make it more difficult and you’re fighting a losing battle trust me.
This big boy will not go down easy and you have not got the fight in you today to win this one.
Have a chuckle about it and walk away!
Whatever industry you’re a graphic designer, author, copywriter, songwriter or poet who writes poetry etc.
We can all hit that brick wall known as creative block and not get any ideas or inspiration flood from our brain and once you hit a block in your creativity it can often be very exasperating.
it happens and you need to accept it, and deal with it correctly otherwise you will get that overwhelmed feeling that can lead to stress.
You don’t want this thing to beat you as it can hinder you from creating and producing something creative and original which is the ultimate end goal and we are going to achieve it no matter what.
What should we do once we get creative block? How are we going to overcome this creative block that is holding us back?
Every creative individual has their own organising system and ways of staying organised. We all have our own tips, tricks and best times of the day when we are at our most creative, when our creative juices are at the highest and we are able to plough through creative tasks.
Here are some of my tips which will assist you to control and overcome creative block and obtain your metal state and let your creative juices flow.
Step Away & Go For a Walk
Regardless whether its night or day time step away into the open such as a park or field or quiet café for a change of scenery as this change of environment can spark inspiration for your creativity.
Fresh air and a change of scenery can refresh and refocus the mind that can lead to a spark of new creative ideas.
Clean Your Desk & Workspace
Your desk and workspace is your creative environment and you need to treat it as a special place. When your desk and workspace becomes cluttered, cramped and untidy and unorganised, so will your mind and this will affect your creativity.
To be able to perform at your most innovative mind set you need to feel comfortable and relaxed, so get your desk decluttered and tidy and workspace organised.
A tidy desk will help your mind to be clearer and focused so you can concentrate on the task at hand.
Using Colours to Your Advantage
Some creative like a clean white space while others like a colourful area to work in. I myself do like a mixture but not too much colour as I do appreciate a clean white working environment as it eliminates distractions for better focus.
That being said it is known that colours do play a major role in our daily lives and influence the way we feel, create and even relax implying they are an important part of our well-being.
Don’t go crazy but spice up your desk or workspace with a little colour. I have a white glass cabinet in the studio net to my desk that includes sentimental and precious things such as things from my childhood, ornaments, gifts, memorabilia, and some of the kids artwork, this allows me to focus on happy times keeping me in control mentally and enhance my creativity.
Switch Focus and do Something Different
Leave your workspace and do something different that is entirely different from the normal work you do day in and day out.
It’s true when I say that new ideas are often found in unlikely places while doing the unlikeliest of activities.
If you’re a gamer play a game for a while, paint or draw a picture, obviously something that is not related to the project you are working on. Get your head in a book and read as reading is good for creativity I read a lot it helps. Also make sure to socialise and spend time with friends and engage in an activity of some sort.
Taking Time Off From a Project
When you work on projects back to back, you will end up stifling your creativity and burning yourself out until you hit creative block.
Mental burnout can be very serious and needs to be avoided / controlled. It happened awhile back when I had two separate cases of bad burnout which led to a third serious case that took me out of action for close to 3 months.
I was working on several projects at once while also maintaining my blogs and other things I do and spending time with my wife and kids, but I kept pushing and pushing myself way too hard surviving on 4hrs of sleep each night and I did this for around 18 months while first building up The Logo Creative project.
Then it hit me I will never forget the first time I collapsed but this was not the last time it happened as it happened on numerous occasions but I would keep getting up and carrying on because this project means the world to me as its dedicated to my Dad who I sadly lost in April of 2017, it’s my therapy that gets me through the days and keeps me going I feel close to him when i’m working on The Logo Creative Project.
I love what I do I always have but it also has sentimental meaning to me, and not only does it help heal the pain I feel each day it challenges me in more ways than one…I love it!
Nothing was going to stop me doing what I love, not even this until I realised something was wrong, and I needed help, so I went to the doctors and he gave me a checking over and good talking to and advised I needed to stop take some healthy time off to heal and get myself back to normal as it was bad, and this was not easy to hear as I have never stopped in my lifetime I am a go-getter, people like me don’t stop!.
He said to me “you’re not stopping, you’re refuelling, but if you don’t take my advice you won’t be continuing this journey”. Wow, this made me stop and think!
I realised that in order to do the thing I loved and could not live without I needed to take some healthy time away from it to refuel.
It was hard, I mean really hard but I am so glad I did, and I forced myself to slow down, but wait I needed to keep things rolling and luckily I had quite a lot of content I could schedule to keep the ball rolling so I scheduled 3 months’ worth of content (I still can’t believe I had this much content it made me realise just what I was doing to myself) This allowed me to not fully step away but really slow down and get myself better.
With that said as I don’t wish that experience on anyone it was horrible, take opportunities to relax and break off from your work don’t push yourself too hard, spend personal time with friends and family.
Also healthy time away from technology and social media is also good for your mental well-being, switch it off and clear your mind.
Downtime is extremely important for our minds as it enables our minds to process information effectively, and our learning process is thwarted when our brains are consistently motivated.
Keep Your Sketchbook and Journal Handy
The best artists, designers and writers always have their sketchbooks and Journals with them most of the time.
They understand that inspiration and creativity can spark at any time and by having them handy will enable you to capture and write down those ideas fast while they are fresh
By having the resources available to you for when that moment of inspiration strikes you can capture those ideas down on paper instantly for motivation to refine later on.
We hope this has helped answer the question of How to Overcome Creative Block as a Designer. Thanks for reading and please share the article to help others out.