As designers, creativity is one of our main tools for work and communication. We sell our taste, our ideas, and the mastery of creating a visual product out of nothing. As designers we are able to transfer a brief sketch on a tissue into a moving butterfly in all shapes and colours. Being a designer is fun, being a designer is inspiring, being a designer is often seen as a “cool” job. It is a cool job but it’s also not an easy one because sometimes it feels like you are out of juice and can’t go any further. It’s “writer’s block” but for designers. That “creativity block” is pretty frustrating but it can be overcome.
The first thing to do is to identify the causes:
- Too much uninspiring work
- Not enough work
- A huge and a very cool project – that cool that we’re afraid to start
- A long holiday – it’s hard to get back on track
- No holidays and a feeling of fatigue
- Seeing too much great work by other artists
- Not seeing enough great work by other artists
Being in “uninspired land” sucks because you have stuff to do and you have clients to work with. So it is very important to get rid out of that space very quickly. Besides going to a gallery, hanging out with creative people, taking a trip, watching a great film or eating chocolate; here are some other things which help us:
1. Get More Sleep
This is a big one, seriously. Getting enough sleep is crucial for your creativity and your shiny brain. More sleep = more creative ideas and less creative blocks. There’s too much noise going on around us and we have to be in front of all kinds of screens most of the time when we are awake. So yes, your brain needs to shut down and will do miracles for you if you stick to at least 8 hours of sleep.
2. Procrastinate Less
Most creatives call procrastination “research”. Browsing Instagram, Pinterest, design blogs, magazines, etc is commonly counted as necessary for us to generate ideas. There is a big difference though between meaningless browsing and focused research. It is super important to work on this and really plan what is it you need to look for today, what is it you need to research and for how long you are going to do it. Without specific time frame and focus this research becomes a “never-ending inspiration journey”. That’s okay if you have that time but if you work for yourself, your time is money. Also that free piece of time can be used for up-skilling and working more on crafting your art.
3. Move Away From Imposterland
Imposterland is the dark place of the imposter syndrome. You can spend some time there but not too long because it can cause “giving up on being a creative”. There will be always more creative people, people who have a better style, better projects, and better clients. But it is someone else’s song, which is there for you to admire and learn the lyrics of rather than comparing to your own work which can leave you feeling depressed. Try to be inspired and learn the techniques from an artist you admire and never compare to yourself. We all have different routes each with its own scene, clients, and projects. If you feel you lack cool projects – create some for yourself (and be hired later for the same work). If you feel like your skills are not that good – take your time and learn some tricks (you can learn almost anything nowadays). Get away from that feeling of being an imposter, keep working even more when you feel it and be patient. Also that artist you admire, I bet they have the same imposter syndrome bonanza sometimes as well.
4. Keep an Ideas Journal
Even though everything is digital it is really useful to keep a paper journal with you at all times. There is something magic about writing and drawing things down by hand, especially for visual people. It’s an exercise that draws the idea out to where it should be. Keep track of all the little ideas (all of them) and random sketches. Just when you think you’re out of ideas you’ll find the right one in that journal.
5. Take Care of your Body
We are all one and “a good spirit is in a good body”. If you take care of your physical and emotional health it will surely bring you so much more creativity and productivity in your work and life. Spend time outside and outside of being a creative professional because very often the best ideas that hit us, hit us outside of our work environment.
6. There is no such thing as a creative block
It is kind of true, most of the time we create the block ourselves and we can in fact control that feeling. Sometimes projects don’t have to be perfect they can be just good enough.
We’ll finish with this amazing quote by Seth Godin:
“No one gets plumber’s block. They simply do plumbing. Creativity is work. It’s not the muse or lightning or the result of burning incense. I write daily because I’m a professional and this is what I do.” – Seth Godin
Thanks for reading and let’s go and create some great work today!