We’ve all been there: sitting in front of a blank InDesign or Word document without a solid idea of how the page is going to populate with words and graphics. Being stuck in a creative rut is something everyone in every profession experiences – but those of us who are in a creative field might experience this mental trap a bit more often than others.
Everyone has his or her own techniques for overcoming writer’s block. Below are some tips I’ve found helpful that may help you crawl out of your next creative rut.
We all know the physical benefits of exercising but can overlook the mental benefits. In fact, according to a study by Standford University’s department of psychology, participating in a short workout before or during work is proven to increase concentration, mental stamina and, most importantly, creativity. Even a short walk around the block or up and down the stairs at the office is enough exercise to get your heart pumping and brain filled with new ideas.
I can recall numerous times where I had an idea spontaneously pop into my head for a layout or tagline while I was running or riding my bike. Try closing the laptop and hopping on the treadmill next time you’re stuck in a creative rut – you may be surprised with the result.
Take a break
Taking a short break from a project isn’t always a possibility – especially if you are working with a tight deadline – but I’ve found that stepping away for just a few minutes can help reset your mind to a more creative place.
“I take a shower. There is something about the rote activity of washing your hair that frees up your mind.” — Jared Van Camp, executive chef
Taking a break can have several different meanings: switching to another project, having a quick chat with a coworker, watching a favorite YouTube video or anything else you can do to distract your mind when it is stuck in a creative rut.
Write down your ideas, even if they aren’t your best
We often unintentionally force ourselves into a creative rut because we want the first idea we type to be the perfect one. In reality, though, this prevents progress and creates hours of overthinking to reach the grand idea.
I’ve found that writing down every idea that comes to mind – even the bad ones – is a productive and time-efficient way to get out of a creative rut. This technique forces you to get the bad ideas out of the way early while brainstorming good ones at the same time.
Look Up Some Inspiration
Google has created a world of unlimited inspiration. If I’m stuck in the middle of a project – especially a design one – I often find myself scanning Google images for a bit of visual inspiration. It’s easy to stumble upon a design or layout that never would have organically popped in your mind.
“I read poetry… Rumi, Neruda, Rilke, and my own poetry, to remind myself of my own art. The words help me to see shapes, colors, form, which then inspire me to write, paint and create.” —Arica Hilton, poet/artist
Break down the project into smaller sections
Another great way to climb out of a creative rut is to break down your project into a series of small tasks to focus on.
For example, if you are working on a brochure and are having difficulties deciding on a look and feel, try breaking it down. Focus on the colors and fonts first, then move to visuals, layout and copy. It’s much easier to tackle a series of small projects rather than a large one.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” — Mark Twain
I hope some of these tips will come to mind next time you are in need of a little creative boost. Can you guess which tips I used while writing this blog?