Designers, you know it all too well: You’re slaving away for hours on end on a design and all of a sudden you’ve got nothing. You’ve hit the dreaded Creative Roadblock. Maybe it’s because there are a million things on your mind or because you’ve been staring at the screen for way too long. Either way, it’s frustrating, and sometimes getting back on track isn’t easy. A creative rut can seem insurmountable when you’re in the thick of it, so I’ve compiled a list of things that help me get my creativity flowing again. Maybe they can help you too.
When you’re in a holding pattern with the same designs and the same effects, slowly back away from the computer. Don’t force it or expect inspiration to appear if you’ve been staring at the same design for hours. Come back later and you may be shocked at what starts coming out of you and onto the page.
Walk. Run. Skip. Jump. Just get out of your chair and move your body, whether it’s taking a few laps around the office or going outside and getting your blood flowing for a while. During this time, you should allow yourself to just unplug and be present with what you’re doing—not agonizing over that design problem or deadline.
Seek out and experience the world and find inspiration in everyday things. One great place would be an art gallery or museum. If you can’t leave your desk, the Internet is an obvious gold mine to get inspired and get the ideas flowing again. Here at BMSD, we also have a vast library of magazine and design books we can flip through to see what might shake loose your next great idea. Hopefully your office does too. If not, see if you can start one!
Perhaps using a different medium will kick start your creativity. Sometimes as designers we get comfortable working with the same medium daily and forget how much fun others can be. It causes your mind to think differently and could break you out of your current rut.
When I feel like I’m stuck in a creative rut, it’s almost always is because I feel overwhelmed. Usually there’s too much on my mind or too many things going on around me. This is when I try to write down everything I’ve got going on and start prioritizing things. When I can see what all I have to do and when, it helps relieve some of the stress that has caused my creativity to come to a halt.
If you’re not on a tight deadline and have a few days to work on a project, consider taking the night off and having a drink (or three) with friends. Clear your mind completely and just start fresh in the morning.
Sometimes getting out of a creative rut just means taking a breath, a moment and a break before it all comes flooding back again. Embrace your rut as part of the process and rest assured that it won’t last forever.