It can happen to anyone; you’re working on a paper, designing a logo for a client, typing up a blog post (heh), creating a flyer for an event, and it just isn’t “happening”. You stare at the partially-done material, just waiting for inspiration to come, but it. just. doesn’t. You take a short break, drink more coffee, set it down and come back to it, look at other things for inspiration, etc., but nothing works.
For some reason, the task seems absolutely impossible.
It’s a situation I’ve found myself in countless times before. However, I've found a method that helps a lot, and I wanted to share in hopes that it would inspire you - or at least save you some time and frustration.
What do I do when the ol’ creative block rears its ugly head?
Spend a pre-designated amount of time (usually 5-10 minutes or so) making the WORST possible version of whatever I’m trying to make.
Why? 2 reasons! It’s cathartic, and it gives you insight into the thing on the other side of the creative block.
Here’s a quick example of this exercise: I was tasked with designing a logo for a financial company. They wanted something modern, professional, and something that incorporated a bit of color.
As soon as I sat down to make it, BOOM. Creative block. After 30 minutes of trying, this is all I had:
It’s trash. I knew it was trash, but the creative block was preventing me from figuring out how to “un-trash” it. After a few more minutes of frustration, I set a 10-minute timer and started making the worst logo that I possibly could. When the timer went off, this is what I had:
BEHOLD, EVEN WORSE TRASH.
There it is. The worst logo for a financial company that I could cook up in 10 minutes.
After all the frustration that I had trying to get started, it felt great to cut loose for a bit and make something hilariously awful. Creative block can stop you from making something good, but it usually won’t keep you from making something bad.
After staring at that abomination of a logo for a few seconds, I felt that familiar rush of inspiration kick in. Knowing exactly what I didn’t want gave me some incredibly helpful insight into what the logo should be. All I had to do at that point was make the “opposite” of that terrible logo. From looking at the terrible logo, here’s what I deduced that I wanted:
A professional, simple, clean font. (The opposite of the cockeyed, cut-off, clunky text in the bad logo.)
A small, modern-looking, abstract icon. (The opposite of the huge, dated, on-the-nose money icons and smiley face.)
A warm, multi-colored element. (The opposite of the garish neon green background.)
After about 40 minutes, I had four presentable logo ideas.
Finally. Not trash!
Coming up with multiple workable ideas was MUCH easier after making one terrible logo.
Next time creative block strikes, give it a shot and see if it helps! TL;DR: Set a timer, make the worst possible version of what you're trying to make, assess it, then make the opposite. At the very least, it'll be a fun break from what you're doing. Best case scenario, you beat creative block in record time!