Destroying Designer’s Creative Block and Unleashing Your Creativity

Apr 14 2010 by Aidan Huang | 32 Comments

Destroying Designer's Creative Block and Unleashing Your Creativity

Designing has always been hard for me. I recall back when I was still in school, I learned to design a poster for a carnival and I had a small sketchbook to draft out ideas that came to me.

In the end, I did not run out of pages to draw on. In fact, I didn’t even finishing drawing on a single page.

Trying to create an original design is not always easy. The flow of ideas can start off slow for most people. But I’ve found that there are some things that have helped me get over creative block, and I want to share them with you here.

Things that Contribute to a Designer’s Creative Block

There are a number of things that leave us uninspired.

1. Perfectionism

Some people see perfectionism as a strength, while others dread it like a disease.

Perfectionism is one of my biggest obstacles, proving to be my Achilles’ heel when it comes to completing projects.

Perfectionism

It’s presence is constantly at the back of my mind reminding me to edit, redesign, edit and redesign over and over again.

I want to create the best that I know I’m capable of, but who’s the judge of what "the best" is? Me.

2. Fear

Fear is a relatively huge factor and there is a large range of fears that we have when we put our work out there. Fear of rejection, fear of criticism or even the fear of fear itself.

Fear

The vast number of thoughts running through our mind want to be heard, but we do not have the time to listen to all of them.

3. Trust

Do you trust yourself? It can be hard sometimes, I know.

However, trust grows stronger with each design you create. When you are passionate about the work you design and you know the value of your work, trust comes naturally.

Trust

If not, keep on designing and trust will surely catch up to you.

4. State of Well-Being

Your mental, emotional and physical conditions are more important than you realize.

State of Well-Being

If you are anxious, impatient or sick, the flow of energy in your body is disrupted, which in turn significantly affects your creative output.

Clear Your Thoughts

Look around. There are many sources of inspiration that you could be receiving if you open up. (See a list of places online for design inspiration.)

Take a deep breath. Think positive thoughts that can channel your internal energy considerably to be your ally.

I have noticed that when I go through a list of positive aspects in my life and start showing gratitude for all the good things that’s happened, my energy shifts and creativity starts flooding in. Everything falls into place.

If you have a lot of thoughts in your mind, pen things down, elucidate your goals and release these thoughts.

9 Simple Ways to Kill Designer’s Block

To completely purge designer’s block from your mind is easier said than done.

There are, however, many simple ways to be free of it that do not require ancient medical recipes to heal yourself.

Here are a few tips and tricks of my own.

1. Be Grateful and Appreciative

As I have mentioned above, gratitude is a very powerful tool to improve your state of mind. When we are in a positive and cheerful mental state, we become more productive. This ultimately has a greater impact on others around us as well.

2. Meditate

Though you may think meditation is just lame, on the contrary, meditation is a great way to relax your mind and channel your focus.

You can even meditate while you are cleaning your room or doing something that allows you to relax your mindset.

Meditation is freeing, giving you the opportunity to reset your brain. It is a great tool for inspiration and mental mending.

Now you know why monks love meditating.

3. Move your Body

If you have not been exercising when you run out of creativity, now is the time to start.

Exercising not only allows blood to flow to your brain, but it also produces adrenaline, which makes you feel better.

After exercising, you will be rejuvenated and more likely to come up with one or several ideas, and it could also help you get rid of the extra pound or two you’ve manufactured from sitting in front of the computer.

4. Watch Your Caffeine Intake

Caffeine—like everything else—has both its good and bad points. The key to this is moderation. Some studies have found that small amounts of caffeine may help prevent cancer due to the antioxidants it contains.

Caffeine intake causes a short-term elevation in your metabolism, giving you a burst of energy.

However, dependence on caffeine will affect your health in the long run.

5. Watch some Videos

Watching some inspirational videos will lift your spirits and provide inspiration for new ideas.

A great video I strongly recommend is "The Secret." Although it does not teach you about design, it has many pointers that could be beneficial towards your route to success.

6. Be Yourself

It is sad to hide in the shadow of others and it takes a lot of energy to try to be someone else, even in your design work.

Design from your heart and just let loose.

You will be astounded by the results if you keep going at it.

7. Do a Good Deed

Do something nice for someone. Give your friend a gift. Help an elderly person cross the street. Donate to charity. Smile at everyone you meet. Kindness opens up your heart and unleashes your creativity.

What goes around will one day come back to you.

8. Sleep Well

Excluding the amount of time spent sleeping, 24 hours will never be enough for you in a day.

Even so, you still need a considerable amount of rest. Having adequate amounts of sleep will enable you to work longer.

So stop burning the midnight oil and head to bed early. Your body will thank you for this. Some ideas come to you when you are on your bed and your body is highly relaxed.

Who knows, the fairy godmother of creativity may even pay you a visit in your dreams. Prepare a pen and paper next to your bed so that you won’t miss anything when you wake up.

9. Be Humble

Be humble and accept any criticism that comes your way. Before you brush it aside, analyze what has been said and why they were said in the first place. Reflect on these words and seek to improve yourself.

If you are humble, people are more willing to share and offer constructive advice, and this will eventually open up your window of creativity.

Humility is a useful tool that can get you further.

More Ways to Kill Creative Block

Here are more articles for your reading pleasure.

Articles on Creativity

Say Goodbye to Creative Block!

Designers, like any other person, work and play in the same way. It is how they perceive things in a different manner that makes them unique.

What are your methods for getting rid of creative block? Do you simply avoid them and bury your head straight into the sand?

Related Content

About the Author

Aidan Huang is one of the editors-in-chief and author at Onextrapixel. He is also a web enthusiast and front-end web developer that strongly believes in sharing exciting and noteworthy information with the community. Grab their RSS feed and follow him on Twitter as @AidanOXP for more exciting information.

32 Comments

Dhyan

April 14th, 2010

Great article. On time. At least for me. Thank you.

nicklas lärka

April 14th, 2010

Great article! Good pointers for breaking the creativty block. Aswell as sound advice for your mental and physical health. Enjoyed it.

azur

April 14th, 2010

I think this tips can be very useful in all the aspects in the life, not only for design ;)

Shane

April 14th, 2010

Great article! I relate to what you said about the perfection and fear parts of the creativity block and it may very well be why I haven’t had my own website in quite awhile, I just cannot seem to say enough is enough and let it be. Thank you.

Shane

Albert Lie

April 14th, 2010

I like the idea of sleep well. I’ve done this since months ago. If I have enough sleep, I have more creativity, because I have enough time to have my brain rested.

maria

April 14th, 2010

The article was going well till you mentioned “The Secret”
I cannot take it seriously now. The Secret? Really?

Sahan

April 14th, 2010

Thanks…

matthew c

April 15th, 2010

good article overall i think, but i’m afraid i cannot overstate the amount of respect lost when you recommended ‘the secret’ and the “what goes around will one day come back to you” thing. may as well also recommend people pray to a particular god for creative inspiration. or put three lotus leaves soaked in vinegar in a pot under their bed at night.

gindart

April 15th, 2010

How to create something is a big case for the people, especial for the designer. But to us, we can also create someting really fun. We just use our head and I think we can do it.

Blogging Tips

April 15th, 2010

Great article. Excellent tips to kill a designers block.

Oridusartic

April 15th, 2010

This is such a great article that opens a whole new perspective about unleashing creativity. Thanks for writing this article. I feel refreshed. :)

Obed A.

April 15th, 2010

This is a truly inspirational post. Possibly the most inspirational I have ever read in my short 6 years of blogging activity. Seriously, I’m not exaggerating one bit. I have ALWAYS thought that I was the only who thinks like this. That the positive energy actual contributes to attract positive things into your life. That if you give good, you receive good (or better). And most important of all: Humility. Aidan Huang, I’m going to read the Onextrapixel blog to see if I can find some more posts like this. Really loved it. Keep writing, don’t ever stop!

Silvia

April 15th, 2010

Great post, I love it! I do practice most of it every day, just I do not like the exercising idea :) I know… I have to… I know :D

Cheers,
S

Aidan

April 15th, 2010

Hi friends, thanks for the wonderful comments.

@Shane: Sometimes, I think we have to start somewhere rather than to wait for the perfect opportunity.

@mattew c: I’m not promoting superstition here but I find it that the law of attraction theory do works one way or another. Have you watched “The Secret” yet? There must be a reason why it’s one of the world popular and discussed video.

@Obed A.: Thank you for your kind words. Our mind is a very powerful tool that we can tapped freely into it’s boundless power.

Natasha

April 15th, 2010

superb article……

Amy

April 15th, 2010

great tips. nice article

Ogvidius

April 15th, 2010

I would highly recommend going for a walk, jog or even a bike ride. Most of my ideas come while I’m out and about and it can be really helpful to just get away from your desk, computer and workspace and let your mind wander and catch up. Works really well for me! Great tips in this article too.

Bryant

April 15th, 2010

Wow, amazing article. Beyond creativity it is just a great list for virtues to live your life by.

I actually wrote all of these down to hang on my wall, but I made a few minor changes.

#4 I turned to, Don’t over consume. Meaning don’t over consume anything, caffeine, alcohol, rest, food. Reliance on any sort of substance is not good for your general well being.

#5 I turned to, Continue to learn. I had it as “Continuously be learning”, but I don’t think someone always has to be learning, rather they need to take time out to appreciate other peoples work and step outside of what is comfortable to them to grow their ideas and thoughts.

Anyway, great article – loved it!

Jim

April 15th, 2010

Great post. I just wrote a similar one the other day:
http://www.thegraphicmac.com/finding-design-inspiration-outside-the-digital-world

You pointed out (#3) the underlying topic I was covering – which is to get up off your butt!

Heamanth

April 16th, 2010

Great Article .. a must read for the persons in the creative industry.

cleawalford

April 16th, 2010

very useful article, especially since you start your list with perfectionism, which is also one of my biggest problems!

Chris Fernandez

April 16th, 2010

I agree about going for a walk. I find that I, along with many other designers/artists/creatives enjoy living in cities for a couple of reasons.

1) It is great, fun, hip, things to do, lots of energy, etc etc
2) It is inspirational… for many of the same reasons as #1. Walking around cities new and old can smack you in the face with things you didn’t know existed in your city let alone the world.

(PS this is not a rant against tree, suburbs or cars… in fact driving aimlessly is often a source of inspiration =)

Anyway, great article! I gravitate towards some of these things naturally and others I’ll have to make a more conscious effort to.

Jae Xavier

April 16th, 2010

When all else fails… there is always Mary Jane. She helped me get more creative when I had creative block when I was freelancing in high school.

After jotting down my ideas, reading them the next day, and materializing the concept, I won the $5k design contract. :)

Aidan

April 17th, 2010

@Jae: Sorry, but who’s this Mary Jane?

Amy

April 18th, 2010

I would highly recommend going for a walk, jog or even a bike ride. Most of my ideas come while I’m out and about and it can be really helpful to just get away from your desk, computer and workspace and let your mind wander and catch up. Works really well for me! Great tips in this article too.

mike smarr

April 19th, 2010

great info. just what i needed right now!

Susie

April 20th, 2010

Great article, good no-nosense advice about getting yourself in the right mind-set to be creative. I think a lot of the time we forget to look after ourselves and this often the root of the problem. Taking time out to get some fresh air often helps me gain a new perspective.

Frederico

April 21st, 2010

@Aidan: I think Jae meant marijuana :)
Great article, some very good pointers. I have seen and recommend “The Secret”. Spiritual or not, the truth is that when you want it, when you see yourself achieving it, you get it.

Weimin

April 30th, 2010

Great article. Very important points that every designers should know at the back of their heads. Thanks for writing this article, remineded me to approach my passion in this field with an holistic approach.

Anonymous Last Name

September 30th, 2010

Good article. I always suffer from perfectionism because I want my work to sell and have more money and all that. It’s due to my teachers in college trying to fail me and all that just because they think my artwork won’t even sell.

Waheed Imran

May 25th, 2011

Awesome. Such a great experience by learning this article. Even it opens the door to think out of box. Thanks for sharing. Keep it up and best of luck.

El secreto

September 29th, 2011

Great article Aidan!

Creativity is an energy and once its stuck it can make you sick. Unbloking this energy is not easy but it is very important, sometimes trying a different way to create is enough to release the flow.

I really enjoyed reading your article, thanks for sharing.

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