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Overcome creative block.

By 2. October 2016Design

This is something that each and every one of us has faced at one point or another. There is one thing to bare in mind and that is there is no “fix for all”, but on the other hand I do have some tips that have worked for me. I hope you have a drink and maybe an apple to hand as I have a funny feeling this could be a long read.

Whether you are a Designer, Artist, Writer or even a chef it doesn’t matter as we all face creative block at some time or another. Ever sat there and find you can’t concentrate, get easily distracted by anything and everything or maybe that deadline is looming and you can’t get over that brick wall, otherwise known as “creative block”.

Don’t despair, here are some tips for you to share.

Get off your bum & have some fun.

This has got to be my “tip of the day”. Yes I know what you are thinking “but I have to hit that deadline”, Right? This may be true but trust me a break is just what the doctor ordered. Nothing quite clears the mind like a bit of fresh air. Whether you go to a theme park, a coffee shop or even for a walk around the garden for 10 minutes, you will be surprised how it gives you a fresh new perspective.

A healthy you is a better you.

We all read this in the papers, in magazines, on ads we see walking to the shops, hell we even here it on the radio… If we hear it this many times then it must be true, believe me when I say it really helps. Ask any Physician, Personal Trainer or even a mate that plays sport, they will be the first to tell you that eating better, sleeping better and moving better makes all the difference. From personal experience I can tell you that the increase in Energy, Concentration and motivation is staggering. I would many times skip meals, snack on crisps or candy thinking I need the sugar for energy, and even have many all-nighter’s but I was doing it all wrong.

After just 2 days of eating 3 meals a day, snacking on fruit, taking frequent breaks and getting 6-8 hours sleep a day I noticed what felt like a 300% increase in creativity and motivation.

Talk through it.

Some of my best ideas have come from talking with other creatives, I would highly recommend reaching out to other freelancers as high chances are they are in a similar boat as you. One person that has helped me through some of my lowest points and been there to help me with objective and critiques has been Alexis Gerard, otherwise known as Icy Bomb. This does not mean he is the only creative I talk to but he is the one that I know I can trust which obviously goes both ways, when I need an opinion he is there as am I when the tables are reversed. The thing that is paramount is that being freelance means that for the majority you are going to be secluded from the world, much unlike working in an office/studio enviroment surrounded by other creatives, so a fresh perspective from others is a must in my opinion.

Obviously I cannot be on hand 24/7 to talk to everyone, but I would like to say I do my best to answer all emails from other designers that are struggling, need critiques or just generally are seeking advise.

Magic downtime steps… 

  1. Sleep
  2. Eat
  3. Read a book (I recommend “Creative Workshop by David Sherwin”)
  4. Shower – some of my best ideas came from this location
  5. Surf the web/Instagram or Behance to get inspired
  6. Chill out and watch some Netflix (I recommend “Suits” it’s a great show)
  7. Draw, sketch, doodle or even write (Anything to get the juices flowing)
  8. Go outside…
  9. Sleep some more
  10. Remember how lucky you are to have this talent and now go and get to work.

Leave the office.

Years ago they designed these called a pencil and paper and I make a point to not be confined to just the office, life doesn’t need to involve an internet connection 24/7. I find my best ideas come to me when I least expect it so I make a point of always having a pad and pen on me, whether I am on a long journey to a client meeting, on a long flight or even if I am sitting on a cliff by an open fire with friends.

Coffee shop, not creative flop.

100’s of coffee shops now have free wi-fi, this restricts the need to have to be sat at your desk and on the plus side you get to help yourself to awesome coffee. All you need is a MacBook/iPad or maybe you are more of an illustrator in which case you just need a pencil and paper or hell, go old school and use a paper napkin. You will be surprised how inspired you can get by something as simple as a coffee shop, be it by the script typography, the color schemes of the shop or even just the sound of the coffee machines. I find the atmosphere of a coffee shop is full of creative potential.

Release your pencil.

Many times during the commission stages we can easily get cornered and restricted by the client feedback that when it’s free time it’s a perfect opportunity to free that “locked up feeling”, there’s nothing better than throwing all the rubbish out the window and just going back to the fundamentals. My advise would be for 30 minutes at the start of the day “get loose”, by this I mean grab your sketch book and be free even if it is only for 30 minutes.

There is no guidelines, just freedom. Are you worried already that you have no ideas before you’ve even started? Don’t worry I got you, here is some ideas…

• Skulls • Rough human poses • Cartoon faces • Items of clothing • Furniture • Hey what about a coke can

Just keep in mind these a “loose” sketches meant to free your mind from boundaries, I find 60 seconds each is the perfect time for these as any more and you will find yourself adding far too many details. Maybe you are more comfortable using a drawing tablet, if so then here’s a Free Template for your daily sketch warm ups and to keep an eye on your progression over the next 3-6 months.

Sit Down, Shut up and Chill.

Everyone needs a break, but not everyone gets that chance, designers especially. As freelance designers we more often than most turn off our computers but then out comes the iPhone and there we stay on social media promoting our work, seeking new clients or connecting. When you clock off do that, your mind is your weapon, give it time to relax and recharge.

Play Hard, Work Harder!

There is a time for play and a time for work, when you have a job to get done, get it done. Turn off YouTube, Netflix, Skype, Twitter, Instagram heck let just turn off the internet and shut down our phones because lets get real, you are being paid to work so do just that. Turn on that Motivation playlist on Spotify, light that scented candle, get that hot coffee in a thermal cup so you have no need to get up and do the job you have been paid to do.

Final conclusion.

Sleep well, eat healthy, take a break and go create…

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