Designer’s block is the worst! Lately I’ve noticed my creative well starting to run dry. All my new projects and stories seem repetitive and derivative of my old stuff. Have you ever struggled with a lack of original ideas? What tactics or mindsets have helped reignite your imagination when you felt uninspired? Where do you look for inspiration and motivating ideas? If you think your work might inspire someone, share it here! I hope I’m not the only one!
Most of my good ideas happen late at night. Lack of sleep maybe brings them on. LOL.
A lot of people say ‘go for a walk’ or change your view in some way so you aren’t looking at the same 4 walls.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t force good ideas (or at least I can’t). If you’re stuck, take a break. Do whatever you can or whatever you prefer to disconnect for a couple of hours and then come back to it with a fresh mind. Personally, physical exertion and being outside works for me, be it exercise, a walk or yard work.
It comes with experience. When one puts in 20 years or so in this business it feels almost like breathing (for some of us anyway).
Oh – life experience also helps.
I always try to learn as much as I can about the project.
Most of the time that is enough to give me a bunch of ideas.
Then I make associations of words and objects.
I walk in the woods and take my time.
If I need to jump to new levels, I pay a colleague and we go crazy and have fun.
Similar to @Joe, I’ve always found that carefully defining the problem and studying all the many variables of the problem often leads directly to the solution.
For more difficult problems, I’ll let them rumble around in my head for a few days. Sometimes, I’ll go for a bike ride or a hike in the mountains or do the Don Draper thing of lying down and thinking about it.
Now and again, I’ll pull out some of my dozens (honestly, hundreds) of design books and thumb through them, which sometimes kickstarts my head into thinking in ways I wasn’t before.
Oh, I thought you were going to say drink Scotch.
That sounds like something I would have said.
I was channeling my inner Eriskay!
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Mad Men. Might have to watch that one again.
When I wrote “lying down and thinking about it,” I didn’t go into any detail, but it involves meditation.
In my late teens, I took a several-week course in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation. I’ve long since moved past TM and secret mantras to other methods, including biofeedback. However, I still meditate for around 20–30 minutes each day. It’s my favorite part of the day.
It’s difficult to explain, but meditation involves putting oneself into a state of mindfulness. This consists of becoming acutely aware of the small, transient things one is sensing and feeling in the moment, such as focusing on the sensations of breathing.
Of course, focusing only on breathing for more than a few minutes is nearly impossible. People’s minds can’t tolerate being blank, so they tend to wander. When you realize your mind has wandered, you observe the thought, dismiss it, and then bring your attention back to breathing or concentrating on a mantra or whatever.
Those interrupting thoughts tend to be the day’s problems or concerns. However, they tend to present themselves with a clarity that isn’t cluttered with the static and anxiety they might typically cause at other times. Even so, when you notice them, you gently push those thoughts away and return to the mindfulness of breathing or other immediate sensations.
When you’re finished meditating, you can retrieve those thoughts and analyze them more easily in a stress-free state of mind that might not have been possible earlier in the day.
I don’t typically use meditation to help solve design problems, but sometimes, it helps me do just that. After meditating, I’ll usually sit still for another 5, 10, or 15 minutes, calmly thinking about various concerns in the relaxed, stress-free state that follows meditation. Those few minutes are often the part of the day when my mind sees things with clarity and insight that is otherwise absent.
I wouldn’t want to mess up that clarity of thought with scotch, though.
That’s such a fasinating and practical insight into meditation, I never really understood why people did it or what they appeal is.
Regarding the OP, I don’t know whether the repetition is necessarily a bad thing, if you’ve got something works, why change a winning formula? The quote that comes to mind is Paul Rand: don’t try to be original, just try to be good.
Everything is deriviative of something else in some way, shape or form.
That said, when I’m looking for inspiration or new ideas I go to Pinterest and just start searching stuff. Sooner or later I come across things that inspire me, then I feel that passion to create reignited and I all I can think about is trying the new idea out with my project.
That’ll be for AFTER I come up with that brilliant, earth-shattering idea.
Just-B and I have similar backgrounds, experiences, and methods. Plus there have been similar past posts on this site. Do a search and you will find more ideas to handle creative thinking.
I would add two suggestions:
(1) Go for a drive around town. It gets your conscious mind occupied negotiating traffic while your subconscious gets energized. When ideas come to the surface, pull over to the side of the road and write the idea(s) down. Continue to drive and write some more.
(2) Open a few random magazines or books and write down three or more random words. (The subjects don’t matter) Now try to connect these random words with your main project thoughts. Amazing things can happen this way.
Best of luck! (Because Luck is what it takes!)
Oooh, I love pterest and social networks like Dribble and Behance. This is exactly what a designer needs for inspiration or new ideas and, of course, to keep up with trends. But sometimes it happens that you look at the work of others and still no inspiration comes, and you seem to be staring at the wall and have no idea what to come up with so creatively. I have this now and I’m already trying meditation. I also went to a psychologist and she told me that this could be because every person has resources. And if these resources are not replenished and only squeezed out of themselves, then this can happen. And even worse, it can lead to serious and prolonged burnout. Therefore, protect yourself and your resources!
Don’t follow trends to follow trends. Do what is best for your client’s bottom line.
IOW, Lead, don’t follow.
and what to do if the client asks to do what is in trend?
You explain to them, “do you want to be like everyone else? or do you want to be noticed?” then proceed to describe what you can do for them to make them stand out.
I’m not saying not to be aware of what’s going on around you, but trends are the result of yesterday’s news. Get beyond that.
More golden words.