What happens when designers have trouble designing? What about writers who can’t find the right words? Creativity comes into play in many professions, and even the most highly-creative among us occasionally has crises of creativity. Instead of panicking, try these suggestions:
1. Slow Down
If you’ve been running on empty for far too long, it may be time to take a break. A book could be just the thing you need to snap out of your stasis. Even a few minutes reading a magazine can help. This is because it allows your mind to be fully focused on something else entirely, and often provides inspiration.
2. Speed things up
In contrast to a peaceful few minutes (or hours…) of reading, 30 minutes of exercise, in addition to the ridiculously long list of health benefits, can cure your creative block, too. This is, in part, due to the release of endorphins – the brain’s happy chemicals. It also gets your blood pumping, which will ease any aches you may have developed from sitting hunched over your desk. Go stretch out those muscles, leash up the dog (if you don’t have one, borrow your neighbor’s) and take a jog.
3. Express creativity in a different way
Recently, adult colouring books have moved to the forefront of our creative past-times, even making many bestseller lists. They have found out what many parents already knew (admit it, you’ve colored a page or two out of little Joey’s colouring book): colouring is therapeutic. It shifts our focus, and also reminds us of our time as little ones, when stress was something that happened to “grown-ups”.
4. Use your considerable talents to do….nothing important
Do you remember why you got into design? Did you ever think “I love spending hours on a design only to have the client criticise and change everything?” Of course you didn’t! You began design work because you love to design. So take your creative superpowers and use them to create something fun. You’ll remember all of the things you love about design, and bring a fresh outlook and attitude to your work.
5. Just take a break
Seriously. How often do you work five, eight, even twelve hours in a row? Well, now is the time to shut down the computer and take a breather. Everyone knows that if you work in an office, you get a break every two hours. What a lot of people don’t know is that the break is essential for productivity. It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Think of your work-brain like a browser: if you don’t clear your cache occasionally, it’ll get bogged down with inconsequential stuff and eventually freeze. No one likes a frozen browser, and no one likes hitting “the wall” at work. To prevent hitting that wall and falling into creative crisis, take regular breaks.
6. Head outdoors
Those of you who enjoy the physical manifestation of Mother Nature will love this part. Even if you don’t like going outside, it’s still important and healthy to get out at least a little every day. If you won’t buy that it’s for your sanity, then buy it for the vitamin D. Everyone needs it, and quite a lot of people are deficient. And hey, you can bring the dog on this one, too. Just remember to ask before you take the neighbor’s dog.
Finally, it’s been proven: playing games helps keep your mind sharp. You don’t have to run around the house pretending like you’re Batman (but if you want to, go for it!); a board game does the trick nicely. For bite-sized versions of games that usually take hours, try card versions. For example, Monopoly has two separate card games, Scrabble has one, and of course, there’s that old standby, Uno. Don’t have anyone around who wants to take a game break? Never fear, Legos are here! Legos are a game and tactile creativity all in one. You can make a nifty new pen holder and be the envy of your co-workers!
8. Look at other design work
When inspiration won’t come from within, look for it without. This can include favourite designers in your own field, as well as any other type of design. Everything you see had to be designed by someone, at some point. Look around you and try to see the creative processes that were involved in the making of, say, a garden, the signage on your favorite shops, or even your desk. If that doesn’t work, head on over to Google and see what inspiration it can offer with a search like “creative design”. A favorite website of mine is DeviantArt, a social media-type hub where artists display their work. When I’m in a particularly bad rut, I head there and look at all things dragon.
We’ve already mentioned that you have a bad habit of working for too many hours in a row, and we know this because we did it, too. The answer? Delegate! If you own your own firm, and find yourself taking entirely too much time on the everyday business tasks and not leaving enough time for design work, hire an assistant. There are many ways to do this – virtual assistants are popular, and a portal such as Upwork can be your best friend. Other ways to find help are to ask friends and mentors for advice, to join professional associations and attend a few events, or even just dropping by a co-worker’s desk and looking at what’s happening there. Inspiration can be found in a great many places.
Just like exercise, sleep affects the body in a way that also affects the mind. Sleeping allows your body to do maintenance on itself, and gives your conscious mind a break. It has been recently proven that the right side of the brain is very active during sleep, especially when napping. In fact, naps themselves have been proven to lower the risk of dying from heart disease and heart attack, reduces stress, aids in weight loss, and give a great moral boost. No longer just for babies and the lazy, naps are essential for anyone who could use a mid-day reset.
The bottom line is, if you are experiencing a creativity crisis, do something to take your mind off of it. As with a Chinese finger trap, the harder you work at it, the worse it gets.
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