A Designer's Tips on Overcoming Creative Block

Updated: Aug 8, 2019



Sometimes, being creative just feels impossible. Whether it's getting started on a large project, or simply fighting your mid-afternoon fatigue, creative block is a common issue for many people in many professions. A lot of times, it occurs right when we need our creative juices flowing.


As a Designer, I have had to deal with creative block more times than I can count. My most recent experience happened in the middle of a tight deadline; we had to come up with a design narrative for an office space. We had settled on a rigid design but then the clients said they wanted a more dynamic/flexible design. Sitting in front of my tablet, with the literal clock clicking, I realized I couldn’t come up with any idea.


As a creative in any field, you can relate to that scenario and a lot of times it can be frustrating. But the key to overcoming it is quite easy.


First you need to realize


Creative block can take different faces. It could be staring blankly with no idea in your head or there are a lot of ideas.. But they are bad ones. For me, I can tell when I have creative block when the ideas I come up with impress neither me nor my client.

Once you have the realization, that’s the beginning of overcoming creative block.


Step away from the design


If those ideas aren’t coming, what you need is to step away from the task and refresh. Staring hard at your computer screen is not going to make the ideas come any faster. If anything, it will frustrate you further and a frustrated mind cannot come up with great ideas.

I find that giving my mind time to breathe is all I need. I usually engage in one of the following activities:


Listen to music


This is my personal go-to and it has never failed me. You will often find me at my workstation with my earbuds in. Sing along to your favorite music to take your mind away from the task. According to this study, listening to happy music (such as classical music) can cause an increase in divergent thinking - a process used to generate creative ideas. Definitely worth a try.





Find inspiration


One lesson I learned from Spacefinish Creative Director, Remi is to save inspiration when I find it whether it’s related to what I’m working on at the moment or not. Later when I’m feeling uninspired, I go back to the ideas I stored and they end up inspiring me in one way or another.


Take a quick nap