Design Drought | Powering Through Creative Block

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Creative Block Happens to Everyone

To me the difference between a professional and a causal is persistence.  Really the difference is pay but without the persistence you can not get the pay.  In school deadline and due date where your life.  You knew when you had something due and if you missed the date or you did a bad job on the assignment, someone was always there to let you know.  So if you want to get past creative block sometimes you have to act like you are back in school.

If you create, you know the feeling of staring at blankness wondering why you can’t make something great out of it.  Everyone get creative block.  It is just one step in the process.  Ask anyone who creates for a living and they will tell you that those images you see of artist, designers and writers sitting around waiting to be inspired are a rare part of the process.  Although it would be amazing to wait for your muse to keep you moving forward, sometimes she get busy and you have to do it yourself.  So here are my tips for powering through.

Power through

1. Know the not everything you do is gold

Not every piece you draw ends up in your portfolio, or on a museum wall.  That is pretty normal.  So just hope that each piece is a little better than the previous.

2. Get rid of distractions

We can stream in all kinds of things to take our time away from what we are supposed to be working on.  Don’t get sucked in to these distractions.  Sometimes it is little things like music with words, sometimes it’s big things like a new game or the TV.  You have to decide what is more important.

3. Put pen to paper

This is the just keep swimming part.  Give yourself as many options as you can.  Depending on what you create this can be in the form of thumbnails, outlines, storyboards or a thousand other starting points.  Just get something rough on paper, and then something else, and then something else.  I like at least 10 options before I move on.  

4. Take a step back for 10 minutes

Now this is a strange step in powering through but to me it is an important one.  When you are basically forcing yourself to do something it is easy to hate every part of it.  Ten minutes of YouTube, yoga, dog petting or a snack can give your brain a chance to look at the problem differently and be refreshed when you get back to it.  It is especially important though to make sure you don’t get so caught up in this that you don’t get back to it.

5. Improve your three favorite

Now hopefully one of your rough drafts is standing out more than the others.  If that isn’t the case though pick a top 3 and polish those up a little more.  We all know that sketching for ourselves is a rougher look than preparing to show it to someone else.  Now is the time to get those ready for the next step.

6. Ask for someone else’s input

I know this is a scary step for an unfinished piece but there has to be someone you know that you feel comfortable sharing with.  Someone that can look at it with a critical but helpful eye and give you some honest feedback.  Even if you don’t agree with what they say it may help you realize you did prefer one of the pieces over the others all along.

7. Finish with the winner

Now it is time to do what you do best an polish it up.  Do your best work and take pride in the fact you do have something to show for it.  Make a few notes on what you want to do better next time, and go look for some new inspirations.


For me writing this was my way of pushing through some creative block.  So stop reading this and get back to work.  That creative block is not going to work itself out.  
What do you do to help you with your creative block?