Block busters: How to get through a creative dry spell

March 24, 2009

Writers aren’t the only ones to experience a creative block. You don’t hear about the other creative professions experiencing it as much, but trust me it’s out there. When you’ve got a deadline but feeling uninspired what can a designer do? Here are just a few suggestions that I like to follow when I hit a design block: Go back to the basics Remember the basics of design; see my previous blog post "Elements of a Printed Page Every Designer Should Know". Create a starting point; use the rule of odds; and then flow your text to see where you are at with your design. Is there any thing to build upon with these basics? Reference past designs Go to your archives, even your thumbnails of past designs, to see if anything sparks an idea for your current job. Does the client have any past designs to reference? If you have the time, ask to see them and tell them it’s for continuity or branding, just don’t let them know you’re drawing a blank. Find inspiration in other people’s designs Go online, head to the local library, or browse a bookstore and look up references to graphic design. Even checking out other designed pieces such as a stack of business cards or magazines you have lying around can inspire you. Design is all around us. Even going for a walk downtown or in a shopping mall will provide you with plenty of design examples. Be one with nature If you need a place of peace to clear the design mud in your head, take a walk in a park, in the woods or on the beach. Nature has been designing far longer than we have, and it always has a multitude of patterns and colors that can set tone and mood. Bring a bag with you and collect everything that interests you, and take it home to bring you some inspiration. Just walk away Sometimes you need to just take a break. Go exercise, take a shower, do some gardening, or go for a long drive. Do something you can do on autopilot and takes minimal creative thought process. This does not include watching TV, which is not an activity. Allow you mind to wander in a productive way. If you find you are still focusing on your block do something that requires more of your attention. Those are just some of my favorite creative block busters. What are some other ways in which you have broken through a creative block? I would love to hear them and add them to my bag of tricks.

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