We’ve all been there. Staring at blank sketch pads or empty Word Docs, trying to fight through the inability to deliver something unique and inspiring; only to come up short, questioning our own abilities and purpose in life. Of course, I’m talking about creative block. Something that every creative goes through. And I mean EVERY creative. Most of the time, creative blocks can be solved by getting away from your desk and walking a few feet to another creative’s area to see what amazing things they are doing to get you motivated and inspired. But in a pandemic, when we are all working from home and your creative space is limited to your couch or small desk you have crammed in a corner of your house, the luxury of talking to another creative human isn’t at your fingertips like it once was. So, here are my five tips to breaking creative block during a pandemic:
- Go for a walk.
Ok, so this is an easy one. It’s usually number one on most lists and for good reason. Getting away from your workspace, taking in some fresh air and getting that heart rate up can do wonders for your mental health and head space. And since we are all confined to our own personal living spaces from the time we wake up until the time we fall asleep, it makes even more sense to get out of the house or apartment. Just be sure to mask-up when you do so.
Pro tip: If going for a walk is already a part of your daily routine, then try taking a different route. Maybe give yourself a small scavenger hunt to do on your walk-try counting the number of Pittsburgh themed bumper stickers you see on people’s cars as they pass by. If you’re going to physically get away from your workspace, then it only makes sense to mentally get away as well.
- Take a nap.
Every once and awhile the mind just gets overworked and needs to recharge, or sometimes you really took advantage of tip #1 and need to stare at the back of your eyelids for 20 minutes. What better place to take a nap then in your own environment, where you’re used to sawing logs anyway? Trust me, you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to tackle all the creative challenges that are thrown your way.
- Think like a child.
Watching a child solve a problem or discover something new for the first time is quite sight to see. You can see that lightbulb go off and the astonishment in their eye. That’s because they are learning something new for the first time — with no previous life experience guiding their expectations. Seasoned creatives can learn a lot of from this. Over the course of our careers, we’ve inherently built in short-cuts and habits that make our process faster and more efficient. And while that may work most of the time, it robs creatives and clients of exploring a truly creative idea and approach to solving a problem. Now, I know most of the people who are reading this are already pulling their hair out trying to manage kids and school at home; but try and be patient and put your observation cap on. So next time you’re up against that creative block, ask yourself: “Am I just going through motions like I always do, or am I looking at this problem like it’s something I’ve never seen before in my life?”
- Write a blog post.
This one requires a little bit of explanation. As a graphic designer and photographer, I come from the art side of the advertising business. I’m not a writer and have never claimed to be good with words. Writing a blog post is something I absolutely dread. That said, performing a task that’s not in your repertoire is a great way to exercise a different part of your brain. This goes for all creatives. On the flipside, if you’re a writer and have that creative block, try and design a logo. See, not that easy, is it??
If you’re a seasoned veteran, you’ll love this one. If all hope is lost and you’ve explored tips 1-4 and are still coming up empty, just delegate and pass off the project to a younger creative in the agency. Don’t bother to tell them your struggles or avenues you’ve explored and failed. Let them figure it out and save the day. Just be sure to park your ego and the next time the whole team is on a Zoom call, be sure to call them out and give them the full credit they deserve.