Let’s get one thing out of the way: every creative professional experiences creative blocks. Anyone who has ever worked in the creative industry, whether you write, design, or illustrate, those feelings of lacking inspiration or just being stuck in general are not unique to you. Even the likes of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and cartoonist Charles Schultz have been known to get periods of stalled creativity, so don’t be afraid to admit if you ever find yourself in one.
However, sometimes it’s not enough encouragement to know everybody gets it — especially when article deadlines are looming or clients are demanding to see that mockup. Or maybe you want to build your portfolio for that next exhibit or job opening. So how do you get yourself out of a creative funk? Here are a three things you might want to try.
It might seem counterintuitive when all you want is to just get on with your work, but chances are you’re not going to get anything done by staring at that blank page for the next two hours.
Freelance web designer Tom Kenny recommends The Overnight Design Test, which can be applied not just in design but any creative work. His concept is simple: if you’ve been struggling with a piece for half a day or even longer, then you may need to rest overnight and return to it in the morning.
“Constantly looking at the same design you’re working on can cloud your vision on how well the design works or simply how good it looks,” he says. “Rest, get some sleep and return to it in the morning. This is the closest thing you have to looking at your work with a fresh pair of eyes. You’ll be able to assess it with a fresh mind to better judge the quality of your work.”
Of course you don’t have to wait overnight to get back to your work. Maybe you don’t have that much time for a break, so rest for whatever amount of time that’s reasonable to you. Here are some things you can do that doesn’t take half a day:
Do anything but the piece you’re working on. At worst, you’ve taken the break you most likely needed. At best, you might just get hit by the lightning bolt of inspiration you’ve been looking for.
Waiting around for inspiration is a surefire way to not find it. You need to be actively seeking inspiration. Sid Samodio, Executive Creative Director of McCann Worldgroup Philippines, explains that creatives need to fill their heads to the brim with enough good raw material. That means being intentional about reading more if you write, surrounding yourself with art if you’re an artist, checking out others’ Behance portfolios if you’re a designer.
Feeling uninspired and just generally stuck is completely normal and happens to all of us. Try the tips above to help you deal with a creative block, but as creativity coach Lisa Riley has said, “creativity is an ebb and flow process.” If you’re going through an ebb, know that the flow is coming soon so take a breather and trust the process in which your creative mind works.
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