How to Take Action When Creativity Feels Hard

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been feeling a little stuck with a creative project lately. Trust me, I know how you feel. Even after twenty years as a graphic designer, I still have my fair share of “creative block” moments. For me, creative block can end up looking like procrastinating, focusing on less urgent or less creative tasks, or just feeling a little stuck.

But the good news is, there are a few simple strategies that can help to get those creative juices flowing again. First and foremost, it’s important to set clear goals and priorities. Know what you want to accomplish, and focus on the most important tasks first. Remember why you’re doing this – for me, it’s because I want to make creative and cool projects every day. That’s why I became a designer in the first place.

To help me stay focused on my goals, I’ll often open up a mood board where I keep designs that inspire me and that could inform my work. I’ll also look at technical articles that remind me of the basics of good layout and design. This helps me to stay grounded and focused on my goals, even when I’m feeling a little stuck.

Another important strategy is to have a regular schedule. Whether it’s a daily or weekly routine, having dedicated times for all of your important tasks can help to keep you on track. And speaking of staying on track, it’s important to minimize distractions as much as possible. Turn off notifications, set aside specific times for checking email, and find ways to stay focused on your work.

But don’t forget to take breaks and practice self-care! It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, but it’s important to take regular breaks to rest and recharge. Whether it’s going for a walk, meditating, or just taking a few deep breaths, taking care of yourself is crucial for maintaining your productivity and creativity.

So, what about when you’re feeling really stuck and none of these strategies seem to be working? Well, that’s when it’s time to get a little bit more creative. Try starting with the most practical parts of the project – for me, that might mean opening a document and getting the size right, or putting something on the page without judgment. Or, if it’s a particularly creatively challenging project, I’ll name the file “Project Name Ideas” and make it a judgment-free space.

Another tip is to look at inspiration and try using very specific parts of what you like in your own idea. Draw from a few inspirations and try getting them to mesh together. And don’t be afraid to try out the bad ideas too – even at your worst, you’ll have some usable thoughts.

And finally, don’t be afraid to get something down on paper, even if it’s not perfect. Whether you’re sketching out ideas, writing down messy thoughts, or experimenting with different materials, it’s important to start creating something. The process of making can often spark new ideas and help you to overcome those creative blocks. You then have something that you can edit and work through.

So there you have it – a few of my tried-and-true strategies for getting unstuck with a creative project. Remember, you’re not alone in feeling a little stuck sometimes. We’ve all been there. But with a little bit of effort and these simple strategies, you’ll be back to creating amazing work in no time.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

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