Being in creative fields such as UI/UX design, graphic design, web design, advertising, architecture etc. requires you to get creative ideas continuously.
This process demands you to be in a specific state of mind, energy, and in the right zone that lets your creative juices flow steadily.
But it happens that many times, you hit a wall and it’s a dead end. No matter how much hard you try to think, creative ideas won’t come. You do nothing but stare at the blank white screen, helplessly.
This article will guide you to using practical and effective strategies to overcome the dreaded creative block.
But first, let’s be clear about what is a creative block is and why does it occur.
What is a creative block?
Creative block is the inability to generate new ideas or to execute the existing ideas creatively.
Creative block can occur while you’re working on an ongoing project or building something original from scratch.
You feel stuck, lost, and empty.
Either you can’t come up with good ideas or for some reason, you can’t reflect your thoughts properly on the whole screen.
Let’s find out some causes of creative block.
What causes creative block?
While there can be many reasons behind the creative block, these are some of the most prominent ones.
1. Mental Health
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression can significantly harm your creative abilities.
If you’re depressed, you will always feel restless, underconfident, and lazy with a million thoughts occupying your mind making you lose focus and unproductive.
If you’re anxious, you may feel overwhelmed by the lack of creative ideas and motivation which will make things worse. We have shared how UX designers can maintain good mental health in one of our articles.
2. Depleted Energy Levels
Your mind has a finite energy reserve each day; use it wisely.
Often activities like gaming for long hours, eating junk food, and binge-watching will dip your energy levels, making you lethargic.
Also, lack of proper sleep can result in low levels of energy which makes you feel drowsy and sluggish throughout the day.
It’s preferred to take short naps throughout the day to boost your focus and productivity.
Stress due to financial stress, relationship complexities, career pressure, and family responsibilities can make you feel frustrated and worried.
As your mind is caught in the whirlwind of thoughts, finding the right state of mind to tap creativity is really difficult.
Also, to be creative, you need to be free. You cannot be creative if you are easily pressurized by others. You need passion and determination to be creative.
If your mind becomes a slave of stress and anxiety then you take that freedom away from creativity.
4. Lack of Knowledge
You would wonder, in the world of the internet, where anyone can Google to fill their knowledge gap, can suffer creative block? Surprisingly, the answer is yes and there is an interesting reason behind it.
Though all the information is at our fingertips, it still needs a reflective mind to ask the right questions in the right way. Problem-definition is just as important as problem-solving from a creative perspective.
Knowledge provides a lens through which you can see the problem in its right light and hence can come up with relevant solutions. A creative mindset needs to solve problems that actually fulfil the purpose and not just for vanity.
If you don’t know enough about a particular field then it won’t help you come up with creative ideas. So how can you build and strengthen your knowledge?
Read, learn, communicate and collaborate with others about the things you love. This will give you a fresh perspective to look at the problems and you will surely unearth creative ideas.
Strategies to overcome creative blocks
1. Try Digital Detox
Most of us spend our entire day sitting comfortably and glued to computer screens.
In today’s modern time, we create everything digitally.
However, sometimes it’s better to detach yourself from the online world and spend some time offline. For example, If you’re a designer, you can draft your designs using a pen and paper.
You will be surprised to see the effect of digital detox reflecting on your thoughts.
Suddenly, you will start seeing things from a new perspective. It helps you to think differently and get new ideas.
Try digital detox a few times a day for ten to fifteen minutes which will help you unwind and think afresh.
2. Finding new sources of inspiration
Inspiration is all around you, it’s in the little things that you knowingly or unknowingly ignore.
When stuck with a creative block, check fellow artists’ work, especially if they are from a different industry and culture.
Enjoying work outside your scope is a great step to overcoming creative blocks and getting new creative ideas.
You can also take a step further and imagine yourself in the shoes of the artist and see how you would create that particular design.
Push your thinking process to new heights. Think from a different perspective.
Also, sometimes you just need to talk to someone to overcome the creative block. Just let your thoughts out and communicate your feelings clearly.
Creative block is a common phenomenon, and talking to fellow creators will not only make you feel good but also push you in the right direction.
You can also learn the techniques used by fellow creative professionals to overcome the block.
Always remember that you’re not alone in this process.
3. Develop a creative habit
A study was conducted in which 9 creative professionals suffering from the creative block were divided into 3 groups.
It was found that the creative professionals with a routine to create something every day find themselves in a good position and rarely got into a creative block.
On the other hand, the creative professionals who always waited for the motivation and focus to strike, found themselves often fighting against the creative block.
Once you create a routine, your mind automatically helps you in finding creative ideas and executing them properly.
For example, If you’re a UX designer, you can indulge yourself in habits like examining and analyzing the layouts of different web and mobile applications and creating low fidelity wireframes.
Also, on the days when you find yourself struggling with ideas; just get yourself started.
Sometimes, all you need is a little push at the beginning to keep rolling your momentum.
You can edit a bad page but you can’t edit a blank page.
4. Step away from work
While setting a creative habit is great, sometimes stepping away from your work can also be a good idea.
If you found yourself struggling with the same concept for hours, it’s better to leave it there and come back after some time.
It’s all about finding the right balance between developing a habit and forcing that habit.
Step away from your computer, and do things outside the online world. You can go for a walk, play your favourite sport or even try that new dish you have been planning for so long.
Sleep has always been an important factor to refresh yourself and remaining focused.
- Get good sleep, it’s the easiest and probably the best method to overcome creative blocks.
- Read as much as you can. Read your favourite novels, non-fiction, or even magazines.
- Watch your favourite movies and listen to music on loop.
- Go and have a chat with your parents/sibling/friends about any funny or weird incident that you recently experienced.
Just take your mind off the work.
5. Stop chasing perfectionism
Perfectionism is the biggest cause of the creative block.
You may think that it is not good to proceed if the design isn’t perfect.
However, nothing is perfect in this world.
To give you a hint, read all the reviews of the best selling books of all time. Even after receiving critical acclaim, very very few manage to get a 5-star rating. No matter how great the work, people will always find faults in it.
Don’t let the clouds of perfectionism ruin a beautiful morning.
Also, you should never decide the fate of your product. Let the stakeholders provide their feedback and then improvise. We all are different individuals with unique perspectives, and there will always be a scope for improvement to your perfect product.
You may feel that your design is mediocre but it may be incredible for others. So, don’t judge too quickly and listen to what others might have to say.
So, let go of the fear of imperfection and just start creating. If you are someone who always strives for perfection, then you should read our article that talks about ways to beat the need of being perfect.
6. Change your scenery
If you work from the same room/place every day, try changing the scenery and observe its effect on your creative flow.
You can head to nearby coffee shops, a beautiful park with birds chirping around you, or even on the terrace where you can feel the cool breeze.
If this doesn’t work, you can also take a short break and move out for a vacation.
This will help your mind process new things.
When you work from the same place for a prolonged time, your mind limits the thoughts attached to everything around you.
Travelling and experiencing new places, people and cultures will help you lose the tightened thoughts and learn things from a whole new perspective.
7. Focus on the process and not on the product
If nothing seems to be working out, don’t force the creative process.
That’s the worst you can do to yourself. Forcing yourself to be creative is meaningless.
Creativity is not something that’s in your will but a perfect alignment of focus, energies, and emotional power that sometimes doesn’t come together.
Sometimes you need to focus on how you’re doing instead of what you’re doing.
Creative block is a common obstacle and everyone loses the right path sometimes.
Focus on the overall process and stop worrying about the product.
It’s a journey, not a destination, enjoy it.
Exercise can prove the best for battling creative block and getting more creative ideas.
Exercise helps you release a chemical called endorphins that will help you feel less anxious, energized, and more focused.
It gives your brain a much-needed break from all the hassle of work.
Step outside your house, go for a walk, run, do some stretching, start yoga. Moving your body frequently will help you physically as well as mentally.
As you warm your body and the blood starts moving to the brain, you will be surprised to find yourself coming up with new ideas.
As frustrating as it seems, creative block is a common experience.
Don’t let it get the better of you and ruin your day.
Don’t overthink that now you’ve to search for a different career as you’re not getting any creative idea at the moment.
Always focus on the process and not the product.
So, the next time you feel stuck in the constant loop of the creative block, try these methods and the creative ideas will start flowing again.