Battle Designers Block
Like anyone involved in creative processes, you probably spend too much time staring at a blank screen or page; more time than you’d like to admit. Designers block – It’s a problem that plagues even the best of us, and everything we do starts to look the same. The reason we joined a creative industry was so that we could let our minds reign free; but suddenly, your mind has nothing to give. Blank.
Here are a few tried and tested methods of getting your imagination back to its usual wild self:
Usually, when we’re all out of ideas, it’s because we’re sleep-deprived, and it’s our brain’s way of protesting against the added pressure and lack of rest. If you just got back from two hours at the gym, would you rearrange your heavy furniture, and then go on to play a game of basketball with your friends all without having a single meal? No, because we feel the body’s exhaustion physically. We don’t ever give our minds a break, and keep on pushing and pushing it to perform well without getting enough time to recharge. Increasing your sleeping time significantly enhances your brain’s ability to create something new every day.
As designers, it may seem like we’re glued to the computer. Were constantly cranking out new logos and website designs on a daily and weekly basis. Depending on how ambitious you are, you can end up working for too long. Without paying much attention, our eating habits can suffer as well. As much as it pains me to say this, “Man does not live by coffee alone.” There, I said it. You also can’t eat all junk food to. Trust me I’m just as guilty of this as you are. It is important to remember to balance your diet, so that your health doesn’t deteriorate. The better you feel, the better your design work will be. Your bringing your body needs nutrients in order to function properly. It’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while, but you have to remember to eat three full meals per day. If you’re going to work long hours, you’re going to need the fuel to keep your energy level high. You’re also going to need the nutrients in order for your brain to function properly. Pay attention to your diet! Remember, you can’t work if you’re dead.
Even if you work long hours, it is important for you to find the time to exercise. Exercise is important to our bodies for several reasons. The first one, is that exercise is good for your health. Everybody knows this, and it’s a no-brainer. The second reason is more important for your design business. Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins are what make you feel good and make you feel happy. Endorphins are important for an even temper and a good mood. If you’re in a bad mood when you design, your work is going to suffer. Your focus is more on what you’re angry about, then solving the problem at hand. Endorphins will improve your mood, allowing you to focus on your work. Having a better mood, will also increase your confidence level in your capabilities. You won’t second-guess your decisions nearly as much as you would if you were in a bad mood. This means that your work overall will be much better.
You can’t expect to sit at your laptop and immediately start creating a beautiful design that will blow everyone’s socks off. It takes time, and just like a workout, you have to first warm up. Start with opening up a simple drawing tool, and sketch something silly. Amuse yourself, draw childish drawings, and get your creative juices flowing. It will also significantly lift your mood. Think of it like Kindergarten art class, where you’re a three year old kid drawing whatever you want. You want to draw a tiny pink dinosaur? Pigs with antennae? Go for it. Once you let yourself have some fun, you’ll get into the whole design thing and take on your work with a positive attitude.
Look at other inspiring work
One way to battle designers block is to look at other inspiring work. If you look at other examples of beautiful design work, it will inspire you to create your own. You never know when something can spring forth a new idea that you may have not considered before. There are tons of websites where you can go online to find inspiring creative work. You just have to know where to look. You can also gather inspiration from the world around you. Go to a museum and look at physical artwork, such as paintings, sculptures, and abstract work. You’d be amazed how many ideas can be generated from looking at abstract artwork. The reason is because the concepts and their interpretations are so subjective.
Leave Your Desk
Working in the same space is usually good, as it helps you focus; but at times when you just can’t get anything done, you may need a change of scenery. If you’re working on a laptop or in your notebook, go outside, sit in a garden or go to the nearest coffee shop. If you can’t take your work with you, just go for a walk, move around and mull it over while in different surroundings. Leaving your desk is an excellent way to break the monotony and give your mind some extra fuel for imagination. Don’t go too far though, because you do have a deadline.
It’s important to take designers block in stride, and not let it get the better of you. Getting frustrated won’t help; it will just create a negative energy that will prevent you from getting anything done. Use these methods to help your mind get back on track, but when nothing works, just move onto something else and circle back to it later.
Just walk away
Sometimes when you think too hard about a specific subject or problem, the pressure can cause you not think clearly. As long as you haven’t waited to the last minute, it can be beneficial for you to walk away from the project and go do something else for a while. Many times your subconscious will take over and an idea will pop up while you’re doing something else. Go to the park, go play a videogame, go take a nap, or anything else that takes your mind off of what you were concentrating on.
Sometimes it’s also good to just get away so that you can come back later with a fresh look. You’d be amazed at how clearly things can seem once you’ve gotten away from them for a while. You may be in a completely different state of mind, your subconscious may have sorted out other problems that it was working on, whether they are or professional, and you can focus all of your brainpower on solving the design problem at hand.
Procrastination is the killer of creativity. No longer are you trying to solve the problem in the most creative way possible, you’re simply trying to complete the task on time. This makes you take a more utilitarian approach to any project that you do. Your solution won’t be as creative, because you’re simply try to get it done. This added pressure can cause your mind to shut down and give you tunnel vision. It will be difficult for you to see more abstract concepts in your head, stifling your creativity. Give yourself plenty of time to think about the problems of your design project, so that you can come up with a viable solution that is both unique and creative.
Try something new
If you’re having trouble coming up with a new creative concept or solution to a design problem, it might be beneficial to you to try something you. It’s probably best if it’s related to the design field, the trying new things in general can help you to make connections that you may have not made before. If you’re not happy with any of the ideas that you’re coming up with, you might also try new techniques that you’ve never used before. If you normally use Photoshop to create your work, you might try using illustrator. If you normally sketch your ideas using pencil and paper, maybe this time you can try paint or charcoal. A different medium can open up your mind to other potential concepts.
Don’t be so hard on yourself
Don’t get me wrong, you want to strive to be the best in your industry that you can possibly be. However, the delusion that everything you do is going to be a masterpiece is what tends to kill the designers creativity. Thinking this way makes you too quick to reject possibilities, and actually makes your mind less open to new ideas. When you focus more on solving the problem, and less on your ego, your work will actually be much better. There really is no room for an ego in this business. Having an ego can make you too rigid and too judgmental of your own work. Sometimes the concept is great, the execution just needs to be refined. Try to keep in mind that you’re not going to create a Paul Rand masterpiece logo for every client. It’s okay to strive to be the best you can be, but having unrealistic expectations for yourself can negatively affect your work. Getting too attached to your work is a problem a lot of designers have. There are too many outside factors that will decide the final outcome of your design. Remember, your client still has to approve your design, which is subject to their taste.
Listen to music
Listening to music has a special effect on us that is almost miraculous. The right music can motivate us, inspire us, and get our blood pumping when were feeling sluggish. Listening to your favorite music puts you in a great mood. The better your mood, the more likely it is a jewel create a design that creatively solves a problem. Music can boost morale and add an element of enjoyment to your work. It also can help you to focus. If you put on over the ear noise canceling headphones, you tend to filter out all of the distractions around you. Filtering out these distractions means they all of your brainpower is focused on the task that your performing.
I know this sounds easy, but it’s the way that you brainstorm that makes a difference. The method that works best for me is a flowchart. I start with the basic concept or problem, and branch out thoughts or ideas from there. From each of those branches, more ideas can branch out from those concepts. Down the side of the paper, or on another sheet of paper, all right down word associations. You would be surprised at how making associations between different words can help you to connect concepts that you may have not considered before. These word associations can shed a different light on the project, giving you the edge to solve a problem from a unique perspective. This could be just the edge you need to battle designers block head on.
Use Pinterest Boards
If you get stuck, a cool technique you might use is to keep Pinterest boards of different types of projects. For example, if you’re a web designer, you might curate a board of web design layouts or mockups. Sometimes, figuring out how to solve your own problems is inspired by seeing how other designers approach a project. The same method could be applied to typography. For example, if you design layouts for magazines, you could have a Pinterest board for different magazine layouts that stood out to you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a design or a mockup and thought to myself “what if I…” and then in a few minutes I came up with my own unique idea and spin on the solution to my problem.
Conclusion: Battle Designers Block
Hopefully you’ll find these methods for battling designers block useful. The whole concept behind these ideas is to free your mind from burdens or baggage that is holding it back. Freeing up your brainpower will enable you to focus on the problems at hand and come up with better creative solutions.
Do you have any ideas for how you can battle designers block? I would love to hear your thoughts on this, because it will be mutually helpful to everyone. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.