We all have days when we must think of that next big idea or design that great looking brochure but are just stuck. I mean majorly stuck in a mind block. You are either staring at a blank computer screen or are trying to re-work an old piece and it just isn’t working. What do you do next?
I have been there many times over the years and would like to share some of the ways I kick my block.
Stop and Step Away from your Computer
Stop staring at your blank computer screen. You will only continue to frustrate yourself. This will create more anxiety and stress which will solidify your block. What you should do is get up and change your location. Go into a different office, conference room or room in your house. If possible go outside. I am sure this is something scientific research that could tell us why, but taking in the natural light, visuals, sounds and smells invigorates different parts of my mind.
Turn to that Old Fashioned Pen and Paper
This goes hand and hand with getting away from the computer. I like to keep different kinds and colors of pens, pencils, and markers as well as different types of pads of paper and journals in all of my work areas (office, home, purse, etc.). There is something magical that happens when you put pen or marker to paper. It is almost like your hand just moves on its own and your brain must try to keep up. Many of my blog posts and collateral design start on snippets of paper and then shoved into my purse. I know this method will irk some of the techies out there, but I use my apps and cloud tools as well, but that is another article.
Turn the Music Up
Don’t just turn the music on, but turn it up. I mean really loud (but not in your headphones for obvious reasons). Also, don’t just stick to your standard playlist. Find the complete opposite genre of your playlist and listen to that. I often get inspired by Big Band era of music. I just bob my head differently to that music, which may literally shake things up! When I can, I also sign along. This works best when I am working from home or driving in the car.
Start an Ideas Folder
I keep idea folders at home, the office and on my computer. Basically when I come across something that catches my eye or attracts my attention—whether visually or concept—I keep in that file. Some of the items in my folder include direct mail pieces, interesting business cards, ads torn out of magazines, and so on. When I am being super good, I even attach a sticky to the piece as to what about I originally liked. The benefit of developing this file is that when you are struggling with your inner creative beast, you can sift through this file for inspiration. More often than not, looking through the pieces I have collected over the years, sparks a completely different design or idea for my project at hand. Sometimes we just need to look at examples of other great ideas and design to generate our own.
This might be counterintuitive to recommend writing when you are struggling with a creative block. What I find useful is if I take a break from the task at hand (usually limiting myself to 30 or 60 minutes) and write about something completely different. For example, if I am writing a proposal for a client I will take a break and write a personal blog post, opinion about my favorite sports team, or an email to a friend that I haven’t spoken to in a while. Basically, I give my brain a break from trying to come up with some new idea and just let it do something easy. I am still putting words on paper (or email), but those words are those that come easily to me. It is kind of warming my brain up before the 5k race.
Take action today. Try one of my ninja-like moves today to overcome a creative block and share with me your results. Did it work for you? Do you have your own ninja-like move? If so, share that below as well.