Designers' Block (and 7 ways to unleash your creativity)
Well, how can I put this in words?
Sometimes, my brain doesn't want to cooperate with me, like, at all. Especially when there is a deadline, and we have got to hand over some stuff.It feels like a dead-end, like I can't be a designer anymore. It's the worst feeling in the world, because yes it is true that you can't let your career define you, but being a designer and stepping outside of the box is not only a career, it's a lifestyle, it's looking at everything and finding patterns, solutions, and practicality, it's addictive, and it will take over your life, and that's okay.
Usually, it takes me a couple of hours of hysterical crying - a literal meltdown - then procrastinating my work until the last minute (this is where it gets tricky: ideas actually come rushing when you have a submission the next day)
Lately, I have been trying to study this "situation", I have made myself the test subject, and I am giving you the 7 tips I have learned on how to overcome a creative block:
01. Assign yourself a mindless task:
It can be organizing your desk, doing the dishes, or even sketching your heart out, it can be writing, editing, or whatever it is that makes you zone out (I like to sketch, or edit some b-rolls). Giving your brain a break from the constant stress and trying to find an innovative idea will actually make the idea get to the subconscious level of your thinking, and relaxing your brain, will help it to get to the surface. Before you know it, inspiration will wash over you.
02. Take a power-nap:
There is a tiny chance that the pressure of the deadline threw your sleep patterns down the garbage, so your creative block, is actually a cry for help, that help is simply catching on some zZz's!
Power naps are an incredible form of sleeping, the best time of the day to take a nap after 12:00 pm and before 5:00 pm, and I promise you, all you need is a solid 20 minutes (max) and you will get your energy back and your creative fluids will start flowing like there is no tomorrow.
The best way to get a power nap, is to get some caffeine running down your bloodstream before you go to bed, it will help you wake up incredibly easily and will give you nice kick to get back to work after your nap.
03. Inspirational Images (and videos) :
I swear by this one. Take a look at similar spaces or projects on Pinterest or your favorite online platform, I am not saying copy someone else's work, but try and re-imagine the spaces or designs you see to fit inside of your project, remember that Pablo Picasso once said: "Good artists copy; great artists steal."
Pull your inspiration from someone incredibly talented, stop thinking that your work is 100% original, it's okay for your ideas to derive from somewhere. All of our thoughts and ideas are actually inspired somehow from the environment around us. The latest example I can give is that I was having such a hard time designing a dining room, and I tried to sketch it, model it, everything to make it come together, then desperate I went to Pinterest. I stumbled upon an image where the fireplace was actually hanging from the ceiling, and boom! I found my idea, it makes so much sense, ties the room together, and exactly what I needed, I applied the hanging inspo to my dining table, make it look floating, and no one is the wiser.
04. Explore other options (REBEL!):
I know, your client said that he hates this font, this couch, or that color. But if it works well in the overall picture, do it! Apply it! You think it's a good fit and it goes hand in hand with everything else, then that is exactly what you need, to rebel a little bit on the brief, by the end of the day they hired you to do what you are trained for, don't worry about it. All you need to do is explain why that aspect is important, and I am sure they will come around. (at least I really hope so)
05. Work in an unusual environment:
I love my desk, I probably take more pictures of my desk than I take selfies, and that's okay (I hope hahaha!)
But sometimes a change of environment can be so powerful and inspiring. It is stepping outside of the box, yes, you can't wear your pj's outside, but you can meet people, and see things that you wouldn't have seen home. so step out of your comfort zone and go work somewhere hip, or weird, it's your call. (you can't wear pj's but you can wear your sweatpants sometimes).
06. Try using the Pomodoro technique when working:
You know how you always have the best ideas when the deadline is closest? Well, you can "fake" a deadline for yourself,
I recently found out about the Pomodoro technique and I swear by it. It doesn't only help me focus and keep myself on track, it certainly makes feel more inspired. Because sometimes, the creative block can come from a place of lacking in focus on the task in hand.
What is Pomodoro technique you might ask?
It's a time management technique where you set a timer to work on a certain task usually for 25 minutes, and take a break for 5 minutes, then taking a 25 minutes break after doing 4 reps.
I found out that I follow it best when I am using the Focus Keeper app (which is free to download btw) , but there are plenty of apps dedicated for that purpose or you can use your cellphone's timer.
Brainstorming comes in many shapes and forms, like mind-mapping, sketching, making mood boards, or just simply writing it out. Brainstorming helps you generate a lot of expected and unusual ideas and link them together in a creative manner. Why brainstorming you ask? Because sometimes you need to lay all of the possibilities (or most of them anyway) to help your brain see it in a different light. You're feeling fancy? Click Here to watch an incredible video about methods to brainstorm (I really love the 2nd point the most). Also, talking it out with a friend and brainstorming together is such a good way to stir your thoughts towards a different directions.
There you go! 7 tips, tried and approved, I hope that you get your creative juices running in no time and I wish you the best of luck in your project!
Let me know if you have any other tips that you do when you are stuck!