5 ways to cope with creative block

After almost a decade of working in the creative industry I’ve experienced my fair share of creative block, so hopefully I can help you overcome it. Other common terms you may have heard for CB are ‘I’ve hit a wall’ or ‘I’ve tried everything’. Unfortunately at the time of writing (1 Oct 2021) CB is currently incurable, however there are a number of things I’ve learnt that might just help you get through it. Below is my playlist to help overcome CB - it’s not a secret so feel free to share.

1. Leave (Get Out) - JoJo

We’ve all been there - sitting, looking at the screen for what feels like hours, desperately hoping the glass of water on your desk suddenly tips over like that scene from Matilda, destroying your Mac and getting you out of what you were stuck on. Well, for the first piece of advice we’re taking inspiration from the 2004 JoJo song - ‘Leave (Get Out)’. She makes it seem so simple but really… it is. Just Leave (Get Out). You don’t need to make a big scene, just get away from everything and everyone. You can go look at a puddle or walk somewhere for a couple of minutes. Just as long as you shut off and remove yourself from the space you were experiencing the block, even just for a few minutes. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do. When you return, there might be this spark of inspiration, allowing you to tackle your work with a fresh perspective and might be just enough to get you over the creative hump.

2. Search, Find - Bee Gees

For the next tip we’re calling upon the falsetto tones of the Gibb brothers to guide us. It can be a great starting point for any brief to gather inspiration. This resource sometimes gets forgotten half way through the creative process. It’s a good idea to go back to the main source of inspiration when you get creative block, or even better seek out some more. Here are a bunch of places I turn to for inspiration - Typehunting, Dribble, Awwwards, Behance just to name a few. Admittedly this wasn’t one of the best Bee Gees songs and a little tenuous of a link, but nonetheless great advice from the boys.

3. Tubthumping (I get knocked down) - Chumbawamba

This one may seem a little obvious but persistence is the strongest tool to get over CB. Chumbawamba repeatedly taught us to ‘get back up again’ if you ‘get knocked down’ and this piece of gold may just be the thing to save you. Allow yourself to fail repeatedly and something wonderful can happen. The legend Bob Ross knew what he was talking about when he told us ‘we don’t make mistakes we make happy accidents.’

4. With a Little Help From My Friends – The Beatles

If you’re lucky enough to be working within a design team you’ll be able to relate to this classic Beatles song. Being able to collaborate with a team can be an awesome way of sharing the load of creative block. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re defeated. A fresh pair of eyes can offer a whole new perspective, and hopefully your team will be able to jump on the project without dealing with all the legwork you’ve already put in. This might just be enough to get you to the top of the hill.  

5. Apply Some Pressure - Maximo Park

Finally, tip 5 comes from Maximo Park. I think I found these guys purely because my name features in theirs. But regardless of that, applying some pressure on yourself can really benefit in tackling creative block. Obviously if you’re not someone that responds well to pressure then this isn’t for you. But if you are, setting self goals throughout a project can give you something to aim for and means that you are approaching it as several hill hikes rather than one mammoth climb.

If you’ve made it this far I applaud you. Next time you’re struggling with creative block refer back to this playlist and give some of these tips a go. Hopefully they can pull you out of the doom.

Feel free to hit me up if you found my playlist helpful. Good luck!

Written by

Max Harding