Getting Over a Creative Block

by Joe Brown

Every so often I find myself sitting in front of my Mac, tearing my hair out, wondering why I just can’t get my ideas to work on screen. I could be working on the simplest project in the world, but if I get in the mind-frame that is commonly known as ‘Creative block’, it’s very hard to get back out.

Here are my top ten ways to overcome the creative block.

  1. Talk to someone around you.

    A problem shared is a problem halved. Whether the person you speak to is a designer or not, they’ll be able to offer an opinion on your work. I’m lucky that I get to sit next to James in the office. All I have to do is swing my stool around and give James a ‘holla!’. He’s always more than happy to help out.

  2. Invert the colours on your artboard.

    Make the background a completely different tone to the one you’ve been working with. I find staring at a plain white page can be very daunting and sometimes hold you back rather than give you the creativity to do whatever you want. Viewing your work in completely different colours can re-start the creative pangs.

  3. Mix it up from an A4 art board.

    I find that looking at a 297 x 210mm board can instantly stop my brain from getting on with its job! I like to make my artboard into a large square. The slight change in layout can jump start the brain.

  4. Get away from your desk.

    When we’ve hit the wall at DD HQ we take a little walk over to Tesco to get some goodies. The first few minutes of the walk are dreadful; I find myself stressing about being away from the computer, knowing that my project isn’t going the way I want it to. As soon as I change the environment (with the added bonus of being surrounded by chocolatey goodness in Tesco) I realise there are other things away from the screen and distract me from the problem at hand. As soon as you can step away from it mentally, you stop worrying – worrying is not good for creativity!

  5. Go back to the research.

    I rummage through my research folder, then I go off and find some new stuff. If the direction you’re going isn’t working as you’d hoped, get on pinterest or behance and find some new and exciting ideas – maybe just elements you can add to your original concepts. It’s these little things that can make a huge difference.

  6. Reach for a magazine.

    Any magazine. There are so many elements in magazines that can give you inspiration. Whether it’s the layout of the text or the colour in a photograph. Inspiration can be found anywhere. The bonus of this one for me is that normally I’d choose a food magazine, which means I get to pick what delight I’m going to cook for dinner that night (ahh…the secret joys of being a print designer!)

  7. Turn your desk around.

    Put the mouse in a different place, angle the screen differently – find a way of changing the environment surrounding the screen.

  8. Play a game of pool

    . I’m lucky that I’m surrounded daily by a group of people who are always keen for a tournament. If you’re not lucky enough to have a pool table in your office, pop over and challenge us at DD HQ. A game of pool not only gets you away from your desk, it gives you the opportunity to discuss your project in a different, more casual environment.

  9. Swap projects with someone else.

    Handing the baton to another person is a great way to get some fresh ideas. The other person may approach the project in a completely different way to you. You may love their ideas, or you may hate them. It also means that you get to have a go at what they’re working on – this gets you out of the zone and focusing on something else.

  10. If all else fails, just get on with it.

    Power on through, fight through the wall, crank up the music and get it done.