Today, we sat down with the two Emmas to discuss the trials and tribulations of creative work. As our in-house copywriter and designer, they know all too well the troubles that creatives can face…
One of the leading issues with designing and writing is the dreaded creative block. Our designer and creative writer agreed that they often find themselves struggling for ideas and staring at a blank screen. So, we thought we’d put our brains together to create this tried-and-tested guide to overcoming creative block…
What is creative block?
In the world of writing, this concept is often referred to as ‘Writer’s Block’. But on a broader spectrum, it’s simply a creative block. It’s like a complete barrier to inspiration, sometimes referred to as ‘feeling brain-dead’. It can happen at any point during a creative project, from coming up with the initial idea to seeing through a concept you’ve already started working on. As creative block can be very difficult to break through, it can be a vicious cycle. Although unfortunate, it’s pretty common. There are many reasons why a designer or writer might experience this seemingly hopeless feeling, including:
- Consistent rejection of work
- Illness or poor wellbeing
- Stagnant working conditions
- Lack of interest in the subject
How to overcome the block
With many years of creative work under their belts, the Emmas know a thing or two about coming up with ideas and putting them into practice. Here are a few of the ways they cope with that dreaded writer’s/designer’s block:
Change up your scenery
This might not always be possible, but if you can, try writing in a different environment. If you’re working from your home office, go and sit in the living room or out in the garden on a sunny day. It’ll allow your mind to think from a different perspective and you might feel more physically comfortable, too. If this isn’t possible, try changing up the environment in smaller ways. Put your headphones in or take them out, play some different music, try working in silence, switch from a desktop computer to a laptop.
Writers: do everything but write
It’s handy to keep yourself productive, even if you really can’t think of anything to write. Do you use WordPress or a similar platform for your blogging? Try filling out the meta description and SEO title first, then spend time finding all of the images you’d like to use. This will take your mind off the writing aspect whilst still staying on task. You could even draft out some social media posts to promote your blog post once it’s finished!
Start small and work your way up
Begin by coming up with some simple headings and subheadings that give a general overview of what your blog post might look like. These can always be changed at a later date but typing out these titles might give you some inspiration for the bulk of the text. Then, you can begin to make small notes or bullet points under each heading. Eventually, you’ll fill out that white space if you keep chipping away in note-form.
The same goes for design – start by sketching out smaller elements rather than becoming bogged-down by the bigger picture.
Noting down ideas outside of work
Often, our best ideas come to us in the most unlikely places: in the shower, on the bus, as you’re falling asleep at night. Our designer and creative writer are always sure to sleep on any projects they’re stuck on and let ideas come naturally to them before the next workday. If you think of something great (or even just something a bit different) whilst you’re away from work, be sure to jot it down so it’s ready to use the next time you’re stuck.
Force yourself to do a 10-minute sprint
This one can come in handy in many life situations and that’s because it really works. If you don’t want to do a certain exercise at the gym, you might force yourself to ‘just do five minutes’. Once the five minutes are over, you usually find it wasn’t that bad. When it comes to writing and designing, you can apply this same principle. Set your timer for just ten minutes and try and produce something in that time, no matter how small. You might surprise yourself!
Find inspiration from others
Whether you take half an hour to research what other designers are doing or ask members of the team around you to shout up some ideas, inspiration can really be found anywhere. Start by browsing through resources like Dribbble or Feedly – make notes of what you like and why. Your colleagues can also be extremely helpful, especially as they’re looking at your work from a fresh perspective.
Take some time away
Sometimes, nothing can beat a good, old-fashioned break. We’re pretty lucky here at Limely in that we don’t have a rigid break structure, you can play some sport or grab a drink at any time you need to. This can be crucial to being creative in the best way; there’s nothing worse than being forced to write or design when you just can’t come up with anything.
Make yourself a brew, throw some darts or browse today’s news – your brain might just need a complete break and will perform better once it’s allowed to rest. If you don’t want to completely step away from your desk, try working on something else for half an hour or so to prevent project fatigue.