7 Great Ways to Overcome Creative Blocks

7 Great Ways to Overcome Creative Blocks

Being in the creative industry requires a designer to have a very open mind as he or she has to cover a wide range of ideas that for different media. However, creativity takes time and cannot be forced. When the stars align, a designer may be hit with an explosive idea or wave after wave of ideas.


The creative industry today is fast paced and demanding. A designer is expected to be ALWAYS ON. As a result of the sheer number of briefs a designer has to work on or from sheer exhaustion, a designer can easily experience a creative block. During those times, a designer may feels that it is impossible for him or her to come up with unique ideas.


I classify the creative blocks I encounter into 3 categories.


1. “Seen this, Done this” Block

These are typically short term and may happen more frequently. This could arise out of boredom, repetition or just fatique.


2.”OMG! What did I get myself into” Block!

There are moments where I feel like I have bitten off more than I can chew. When this happens I feel overwhelmed or that I cannot do it.


3. “What am I doing with my life” block!

These moments are few and far between. When it does happen, it is because I am dealing with more than just the stresses of work. It could be something happening in my personal life that is impacting me and my work.


For each, there is a slightly different way I deal with them although sometimes mixing it up helps.


#1. Get a breath of fresh air! Don’t be a hermit. Go out from time to time.


As time passes and your desk looks increasingly toxic, you may be starting to experience a creative block. When that happens, don’t force it. Go outside of your workplace or workspace for a while and get a breath of fresh air. Find ways to do short “me” time. This can really help you refresh your mind.


#2. Got a random thought? Write it down, even if you think it is not relevant


Sometimes a thought that seems random may actually makes sense when the other pieces fall into place. When that happens, only God knows. Or in the future, it may come in useful for another brief or project you work on. Saving for a rainy day never hurt anyone right? It may even be your subconscious trying in its own way to release the block. To me resistance is futile as who truly know how our mysterious mind works!


#3. Re-schedule your day. Create the mental space you need to think and create!


Sometimes what contributes to creative blocks is how daunting the day or week ahead looks.  When that happens, take a step back and figure out what is important and urgent that cannot be re-scheduled vs what is not which you can delay or push back. This removes the “I have so many things to do” clutter in your mind and allows you to re-focus.


If need be, temporarily turn off the reminder notifications. Seeing that notification  pop up when you have creative block never helps unless you like having the s@@t scared out o you!


#4. Re-design your workstation. Clearing your physical space may help you clear your mind. 


Strange as it seems, there are times nothing beats giving your workplace a makeover. It could be as simple as re-organizing your desk or as extensive as re-arranging your work room. Creating a different work environment could actually declutter your mind or provide you the “new” creative space you needed.


#5. Explore different things especially when you feel like just curling up on the sofa.


As a designer you would have heard this ad nauseam – the need to have an open mind and to continuously explore new things. It may it be going for an exhibition or working from a cozy cafe or going for strolling somewhere. The kicker here is to to do that when you are most resistant to it. What opens up for me whenever I do that has been nothing short of amazing.


#6. Sometimes doing nothing is doing something!


Sometimes our psychological or mental well-being is what is contributing to our creative block. Try going to peaceful environments, meditating, doing yoga, listening to your favorite music. Have quiet moments with yourself. At times, all we need is to focus on our own well-being by having a longer me time.


#7. Got a personal issue? Deal with it first!


Sometimes divining neck deep into work helps us deal with our personal issues or distracts us from them. Other times, not dealing with them upfront, cripples and hinders our ability to think creatively. Our minds keeps drifting back to the issue and we are not present to what we want to create. When I am faced with those situations, I choose to focus my energy on dealing with those issues. Once it is resolved or I have at the very least scheduled time to deal with the issue, it frees me up to be present to the work I am creating.


So the next time you experience a creative block, try one or a combination of the above. If you do, let me know how it works out or share with me how you deal with creative blocks.




Jeffrey Valerio

Graphic designer based in the Philippines who loves taking pictures, watching movies and eating burgers.