It is the most feared condition for all those engaged in the creative arts. In the daily grind of life, there comes a point when all ideas seem to have been extinguished, and any momentum seems to have ground to a halt. It’s the condition most commonly known as writer’s block. And despite its name, it doesn’t just strike writers.
Graphic designers create all sorts of material all day for clients—images, logos, and other marketing outputs. It is a job that taps strongly into a person’s ability to be creative with pictures and art. At first, the ideas come easily—at times, there’s too much of them to handle! But imagination has its limits, and after pushing it so hard in order to come up with the perfect output, burnout can set in. This ends up killing the designer’s initial enthusiasm and drive for his work, and results in feelings of frustration and stress.
- Have a break. Focusing too hard on your task when it just isn’t happening can exacerbate the block. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is let it go for a while. Do something mindless. Surf the Net, check Facebook and Twitter, or call a friend to chat. Doing activities that take your mind off work can help to refresh your thoughts, and when you return to the task at hand, you’ll feel more energetic.
- Watch TV. It screams “lazy!” to many, but not to the mind. TV is a product of creativity, and is a hotbed of material that can stimulate your thinking. Channel surf, and try to watch different kinds of shows. And watch TV on the TV—don’t rely on the downloaded episodes of your favorite sitcoms on the computer. Widen your scope and look for something new to get interested in—that could be the spark you’re looking for.
- Read books. Grab a book (an actual book, mind you!), curl up with a cup of tea or coffee, and dive in. Reading can be a great creative exercise—it keeps your mind active by creating mental pictures of what you’re reading. By seeing how the author expressed his or her thoughts, you can be inspired to come up with your own expressions.
- Maintain an active lifestyle. Mentally down? Get up and get out. An active lifestyle can stimulate the flow of blood to the brain, giving your mind a boost. You can go to the gym, jog, play sports, or even do something as simple as taking a walk. The important thing is to get moving. Once you’re pumped up, the creative juices will flow much more strongly.
- See some new sights. Looking at the same four walls every day can be a reason why you’re all stopped up. So step away from your desk and change your surroundings. Go somewhere where you can get lost in nature. Travel to another country, or another province. Venture outdoors, rather than staying indoors, and bring your materials with you. Oftentimes, a change of scenery is just what you need to get you out of your rut.
- Listen to music. There’s a reason why Baby Mozart sells. Many parents want their kids to be exposed to beautiful music even while in the womb so that they’ll be born smarter. You may not be a baby anymore, but it doesn’t mean that music can’t still work its magic on you. Music is universally acknowledged as one of the best sources of creativity and inspiration. Personally, I work best when I’ve got my headphones in—I find that the melodies of my favorite songs can perk me up. A great way to harness the power of music is to identify the songs that you think best get you in the mood to design, and create an inspirational playlist. If you don’t like to be distracted by lyrics, you can always opt for classical or instrumental music instead. The key is to discover the right mix for you.
- Have fun with it. One of the ways in which creative work can feel stifling is by being “work”. It’s different when you’re designing as a hobby—there’s no pressure to be perfect because no one’s watching and you’re not looking for anyone’s approval. Design something for fun when you’re feeling stuck. It can be something as simple as creating a Spiderman cover photo for your Facebook timeline, or redoing the layout for your personal blog. The purpose is to remember the joy of designing again, and at the same time to keep your skills in constant use so they stay sharp even when your mind isn’t. Once you’ve rediscovered your purpose, sitting down to work will be much easier.
- Look for an inspiration. Creative bursts happen anytime, anywhere, any way once you find that spark. Don’t be afraid to search for it in unexpected places. Some find inspiration while sitting on an elephant in Thailand. Others find it in dreams. Still others find it in people. You want to live every day being open to the possibility of having a creative burst. You don’t have to force inspiration—it comes to you in the right time. Learn to recognize it, and capitalize on it.
When you’re experiencing writer’s block, always remember that it doesn’t go away on its own—you need to decide to act in order to start moving again. Writer’s block is always rooted in fear and anxiety, and the way to overcome it is by realizing what causes them and dealing with them. As a designer, don’t be afraid to show yourself in your work. Don’t be paralyzed by the fear of making mistakes. You’ll be so surprised by how many great ideas you have, that you’ll forget what writer’s block even means.
Guest author Celina Conner is a Yoga Instructor, an alumna of Marketing Management at Martin College Australia and a mother of a beautiful daughter, Krizia. She has a passion in cooking and formulating vegan recipes. Follow her adventures on her Twitter.