Overcoming Creative Block

Twenty-five designers, illustrators and photographers were asked the question, “What do you do to inspire your creativity when you find yourself in a rut?” A lot of the answers to the question are common sense tactics (e.g. do something else, go outside), but at least you can take comfort in the fact that everybody runs into this problem. Feel free to share your favorite strategies in the comments.

(via Kottke)


  • Kyle

    Given I’m not on any tough deadline at the time I’ll usually get away from whatever I’m working on for an entire day. Do whatever I can to get my mind off of it. If I’m able I’ll find a friend to do something with, and that usually gets my mind off everything for a few hours. Its not very unusual but interaction with people seems to be my medicine.

    Other times I’ll watch a bunch of movies that aren’t related to the story I’m working on in any way what so ever.

  • http://beesbuzz.biz/ fluffy

    Since my creative output is more or less an escape from my day job, I find that it’s helpful to just be way too busy at work to be thinking about my non-work things, because not wanting to be at work is what gets my creative juices flowing. I don’t think that’s a very successful long-term strategy.

  • Kate

    Usually I’m bouncing around so many different projects I’ll stop doing whatever’s troubling me and work on another. Then there is the always useful procrastination. Raid the blue team’s castle in Fat Princess and kill the hell out of its soldiers. Listen to The Simpsons Season Four DVD commentaries for the bajillionth time. Draw. Walk around the house for a bit. Harass the cats. And before you have a little too much of a good thing, go back to work.

  • http://www.tonydistefano.blogspot.com Tony D.

    SLEEP!

  • http://tekena1200.deviantart.com/ Niki

    I usually wait it out, but I walk sometimes.

  • Chris S.

    I usually find myself in a rut because my subconscious is telling me I should be doing something else. My solution is to take care of other things that I know I have procrastinated and put off for a while. This, hopefully, frees up my mind a bit and the creative juices start flowing again. Often I will be inspired by the process of taking care of loose ends, or I will come across inspirational material by chance. Plus, putting lame chores behind always feels good in the end.

  • Wayne L.

    When I’m stuck in a creative rut and have nothing worth while or intelligent post on my blog, I like to start a flame war and air my dirty laundry in a blog post. Usually over something petty. I like to take it as far as I possibly can until I destroy whatever shred of credibility I had to begin with.

  • http://weirdurl.com Zekey

    I find listening to music helps.

  • Rufus

    This is always cool to read. :)

  • http://www.mymedicatedcartoonlife.com Bitter Animator

    I find there’s nothing better to get creativity flowing than taking on a project I’m being paid to do. The second I have to work on something, ideas for just about everything that isn’t that project start to flow.

    I also think plane journeys are fantastic. Nothing like hours sitting in a dull airport to force the mind to wander off to a better place.

  • http://www.theAMIGOunit.com Bone

    Burn your work and start again

  • http://jeffoverturf.blogspot.com Jeff Overturf

    I point my mind on a different creative path than the one I’m having trouble with and find I usually find a correlation that takes me back where I need to be and am able to juice up the original block.

  • http://www.animationaddict.co.cc Pepik

    I usually ride my bike. doing some uphill sprint always helps to clear my head. but sometimes only TonyD’s suggestion helps

  • Philip Street

    I have a weekly deadline to produce 6 comic strips. The drawing is a known quantity but the writing is more problematic. Lately I have devised a solution that involves a) my notebook and a pen b) a local cafe c) an americano and d) my butt in a chair until it’s finished.

    The cafe and the americano are optional.

  • Paul

    I used to panic and run around up the walls and pretty much anywhere that you could run around to, which of course just made it all worse. But now I’ve found an amazing way to stimulate my mind is trashy monster/creature movies from the 20′s-50′s and especially Ed Wood. Some are just so bad that your mind really does wander off.

  • Anthony C.

    I might be too late, but watching a few of my favorite childhood cartoons works wonders…even if it feels like you don’t got enough time to with a tight deadline. Whether it’s Transformers G1, Magical Maestro, or Tiny Toons Adventures-something about it will get my mind back on track for animation…albeit as late as the morning after sometimes. With Youtube it’s far too easy to find…

    And if you go to a school and they have hours where the classrooms are open I find I can’t put a pencil down then. When I get home I can’t help but sit at the laptop, and play my 360 and Wii. When I’m at school I’m miles and miles away from all that..and with being surrounded by lighttables, other students, and a general work producing enviroment-everything ust comes right to me.

    Give these a go, even though I’ll confess to neither always helping me %100…creative blocks tend to be unpredictable for me and are a huge problem I have when I drag on a project’s preproduction far too long…