As creatives — from content writers to art directors — we all occasionally suffer from creative block. Sometimes it’s about overcoming procrastination, and sometimes it’s about bringing fresh, semi-genius concepts to the studio. So we asked some of our creative friends around the globe: How do you get unstuck creatively?
Senior Graphic Designer, Carousel30
“Creative standstills seem to happen as if by magic, but there’s no magic solution to getting unstuck. The key is to release tension and gain mental separation from the task. Let the frustration build and it cripples.
“I like to run — not from the problem — but to decompress, realign my mind. Getting unstuck is personal, so do what makes you comfortable, what comes as second nature. For me, cooking also does the trick. My hands are busy chopping away, my mind relaxes, the ideas flow. Bonus: I’ve now got dinner!
“When I can’t quit the office for a quick run or whip up a tasty meal, I brainstorm with colleagues, flip through art history books, or read some of my favorite blogs. Lastly, the power of a double espresso shot is never to be underestimated!”
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Experience Designer, R/GA
“The first [approach] is seeing how others tackle a certain problem. For example, if I want to prototype an augmented reality experience, how have others approached this? Having a thirst for discovering new solutions to creative problems and creating a collection of this inspiration is key for me to get unstuck. However, this requires a dedication too. When things are light at work I use that time to discover experiences that were designed in a different way.
“The second [approach] is going to other designers to get their point of view on a project. At R/GA, I’m surrounded by some brilliant minds so being humble and going to them for advice is often eye opening as well.
“All in all, becoming better at getting unstuck creatively leads to always having a point of view on how an experience can come to life on any project you are on. This, in my experience, is critical to acquire. Always having a point of view you can defend with references you’ve found is a strong and successful way of selling through work.”
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Graphic Designer & Art Director, Catherine Plouffe
“Getting stuck creatively can be a good thing. It forces you to gain perspective as to what is causing the block. Sometimes it’s a matter of approaching the problem you’re solving from a new or different angle. A refresh, going back to the drawing board or taking a step back can help as well. Create a structure or process for the work, understand the mandate from a holistic point of view and what role you play in all of it.
“I suggest questioning yourself what or where is the creative block. Sometimes it’s a matter of asking more questions with the people you’re collaborating with to get more information, which can lead to an efficient and effective solution. As much as getting stuck creatively is uncomfortable, it can be an opportunity for innovating.”
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“When I have a creative block, it’s time for me to get out of my chair and start looking for a fresh perspective on what I’m trying to solve. I test my ideas with people around me and listen to their points of view. Listening to people brings me new perspective and very often brings the magic I was looking for. I also like to go to new spaces; inspiration often comes from non-related subjects.”
Connect with Elodie on LinkedIn.
UX Designer, Red Ventures (Personal Site)
“When it comes to creativity, it helps to identify the context as a framework to help develop your ideas. In the case of my experience, context always prevails when thinking through user needs and business goal expectations. When I am stuck, I take the time to hit the whiteboard and start to identify key, high-level thoughts that may help frame the direction to start brainstorming creative ideas.
“If it’s a matter of being stuck and a timeline is forcing your hand to be creative in a short amount of time, it helps to take a break. I would consider doing so by getting outside, or in an environment to end your current thought process. Later, return in hopes to have a more open-minded, fresh approach when beginning to brainstorm.”
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“I like to picture creative block as this hulking beast, always lurking, just out of sight, waiting to pounce when you think you’re safe. However, just before it sinks its claws in, I do the only thing that makes sense; I run away.
“Bounding from my desk, camera in hand, I travel to the tops of mountains or maybe just to the coffee shop down the street. I escape to a place that provides a momentary pause, saving me from my own thoughts. Holding onto hope that perhaps by chance some form of inspiration will stumble into my viewfinder.
“Sadly, however, the beautiful dream-like scenario doesn’t always pan out. Sometimes you just have to roll up in a blanket like a burrito, grab a bucket of ice cream and binge Netflix for seven hours because you’re a goddamn designer and you’re in this for the long haul!”
How do you get unstuck creatively? Share your thoughts and tactics below!