Creator’s Block and How to Break It

By Stephanie Sprouse

“Write a blog post, make it pop, give it a hook and a bang, and above all, make sure it’s creative.”

Being creative always sounds fun and easy; however, anyone who has ever needed to be creative on a deadline can tell you it can seem anything but. Never fear! There are ways to keep moving when the ideas stop, and they may not be what you’d think. Everyone here at Gravity has experienced the challenge of staring at a blank page we have to fill, and I’m here to share with you the methods we’ve found to get the creative juices flowing.

Fresh Eyes

It’s hard to think outside the box when you’re sitting in it. Get out, go for a walk, play with office dogs, sleep on it (preferably after office hours), and come back with a fresh perspective. Even switching to another project can help. Overthinking can kill creativity and not working on a project, as odd as it sounds, can actually be what gets everything moving.

Try Object Meditation when you’re having a hard time taking your mind off what needs to be done. Simply go outside, find an object, and analyze every aspect of it. Focus on its curves and features until you’ve noticed every last detail, and then you’ll have completely detached yourself from previous thoughts.

The fresh eyes don’t always have to be yours: a coworker or friend can share their thoughts and open your mind to new ideas and possibilities. The important thing to know when you introduce someone else to a project is who and why. The person you choose to provide input doesn’t have to be an expert in the topic, but there should be a reason behind the choice. If you’re working on an email design for dog food, it’s great to get input from someone who knows email design, but a person who buys dog food can have an equally important perspective. The “why” is important because going to someone when you don’t have a good handle on what you’re looking for can lead to even more trouble (see the next section, “Building a Box”).

Building a Box

It might not seem like you should create a box when you’re trying to think outside of it, but often creator’s block can come from the absolutely paralyzing freedom of being able to do anything. Focusing on the end results or goals of the project and working your way back to create boundaries can help you focus and better define what is needed. Who is the audience? What do we want to accomplish? How is this specific project different? Going back to the basics and answering these questions is a great start to developing creative.

Flooding and Research

Personally, I find what I call “flooding” to be a great way to overcome the challenge of creating something new. Look at magazines, images, drawings, paintings, go outside and look at signs…or anything really. Take all of it in and then spit it out, take a pencil to paper or get on the computer and just do something. Anything. It doesn’t have to relate to the project, it just has to be what comes to you. After this, take a break and refer to Fresh Eyes.

Research is a less chaotic approach, but it can be just as effective: explore other creative examples that relate to your project. Seeing what works builds a great foundation to move on from. It can also help to see how others have solved similar problems. 

We also try very hard to prevent creator’s block when we can by sharing and collaborating often and being flexible as new challenges arise. Being creative can be fun and easy if you work as a team and take small steps to keep from getting blocked.

OK, gotta go — it’s time to take a walk and get creative :).

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