Fight creative block market house

Article Topic


May 15, 2016


Zack Tatum

6 ways to combat creative block

Article Topic


May 15, 2016


Zack Tatum


We’ve doubled this list on the LunchBreak Marketing podcast. Listen to the podcast episode now.

Have you ever been working on a project and just hit a wall? Or, what about sitting down to start a project where you need to create 6-8 different, unique business cards that the world has never seen and you have NO idea where to begin?

This happens to EVERYONE. If you haven’t experienced it… you will. If you say you haven’t experienced it, then you’re a liar. Yup, I just called you out. It happens to both the newbie and the seasoned veteran alike. It’s unavoidable.

The term is called a creative block.

Every designer hates it. Every designer dreads it. But you have to find a way through it. So, today I want to give you some tips for you to combat creative block before it hits you and when you’re in the bleak, desolate, emptiness that is creative block.

1. Use Pinterest.

I used to be skeptical of this one actually. I thought that Pinterest was just for women. That was honestly because my wife loves it and was always hearing women talk about how they “found it on Pinterest.” But when my wife suggested I use it for storing my design inspiration, my ears perked.

The power of Pinterest is incredible for storing your inspirations. I used to have several folders on my desktop and when something inspired me, I would save the image or screenshot it and store it in its appropriate folder. There is nothing wrong with that system you can still do that, but being able to have your inspiration in a digital format (not to mention in your pocket with you at all times from your smartphone) is extremely convenient.

So, if you don’t have a Pinterest account, get a free account and start pinning. When you start a project or just need that extra boost of creative juice to get you to the finish line, use that yours boards to help spark your next greatest design. Happy pinning!

2. Save the file, shut down the computer, and walk away.

Sometimes the best medicine for the creative block is to shut down the devices and get outside. Maybe it’s just going for a walk in a park or a nice long hike. Maybe it’s going to the mall just to people-watch. Maybe it’s going to work out. No matter what it is, just don’t be on your computer, tablet, or computer.

Your mind can only take so much.

So if you have been burning the candle at both ends with design work, your brain is going to shut down, the creative juice will stop flowing and you are going to get frustrated. By stepping away from it and getting out, you are allowing your mind to go elsewhere for a bit. You are giving your creative brain a break for a bit.

I like to think of my creativity as fuel in a car. That fuel will run out at some point and you have to fill it back up. If you always run on “E,” eventually you are going to be stuck on the side of the road. However, if you are continually fueling yourself with breaks from your work, you will begin to produce better work and hopefully combat that creative block from sneaking up on you.

3. Sketch it out.

Sometimes it’s best to just start drawing. This works really well if you are a great drawer. I am not super great at drawing, but it has helped me through that creative block.

There is something about a pen/pencil on paper that gets the mind going again. No matter how experienced you are with your design programs, getting your ideas out on paper can speed up the process. After you have sketched out several ideas, you can scan them and you are ready to go again with designing whatever you are working on.

4. Change your surroundings.

Get out of the office! If you work from home, get out of the house! Go to a local coffee shop to work for a little while. If you don’t need the Internet for a little while, go to a park and work. Maybe you need to sketch out some ideas and can take a pad of paper out to the mall to sketch a bit. Whatever it is, it’s great to just mix up your surroundings from time to time. For me, it’s heading out to a coffee shop and working with my earbuds in for a little while.

By switching up your surroundings, you are allowing your brain to switch gears. Just the simple journey to your new “workspace” can spur on some ideas right away. Think about where you live: where can you go when creative block sneaks up on you? Make a list of them so you don’t have to think about it, you can just pack up and go.

5. Go work out.

I can’t tell you how many times I have put this one to use. The endorphins you release from a good workout will help your brain push through that barrier you are hitting on the project you are working on.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to join a gym or go and exert yourself hard, it can simply be just walking at the park, or riding your bike at the beach. The point is to give your brain a break from its workout and let your body get some exercise.

6. Sleep on it.

This one is a recommendation from Jason, a partner here at Market House. It sounds weird and totally counterproductive, but it works. He finds that when he’s working on a new website and there’s a bit of code that gives him grief, he stops and walks away. Very much like step 2 above, but he takes it one step further. Finish up your day if it’s not nighttime or just go to bed if you’re up late working already. He finds that the brain, a truly magnificent and perfectly designed piece of machinery, will work out the problem on its own.

He’s had more than his share of problems or creative blocks pushed away from clearing the headspace and giving the brain time to work out what you had already subconsciously figured out long ago.


Let’s hear from you!

How do you deal with your creative block? What solutions have you found to work for you?

Share with us what has worked with you. If this article has helped you, share it with others. Please leave a comment or any questions you may have below.