Eat Through Your Creative Blocks

In this series of posts, we’re exploring ways around the different types of blocks to your creative work, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional. In this post, we’ll dive into some ways to get around, or take advantage of fatigue, poor health, or otherwise physical states of being.

Know your Enemy

When you embark on a creative project or task, it’s important to understand what you need out of the moment. Are you suffering from creative block, where you can’t seem to come up with new ideas? Or, are you having a hard time executing those ideas, perhaps instead suffering from lack of productivity. If you’re producing something creative, did it occur to you that these blocks could be distinct? Do you have a timeline that allows you to separate them?

A recent study at Albion college points to evidence that you might actually be more creative when you’re tired. Sound amazing? Consider that fatigue acts as a dampener for your rational brain and its ability to hone in on specific information. You might not focus well. You might get a lot of stray thoughts marching through the middle of your attempts at work. Killer for staying on task. But when it comes to generating out-of-the-box ideas, your brain needs a party of thoughts – the more the merrier. Feeling underslept? Don’t seize the blanket. Seize the moment and make time to generate ideas for future creative work.

creative-brain This is your brain. This is your brain on creativity.

Powering through Productivity Blocks

So you’ve taken advantage of what seemed like your worst working time to do some creative idea-generating. Great! Now you just need to move on to doing something about those ideas. Here are some tips for getting from sluggish to finished task or product:

  • Your brain is not a mystical wellspring of thought inside your cranium. It’s a muscle, and it’s part of the larger, self-equalizing system in your body. Feed it accordingly. There’s no way to tell your body to direct your healthy lunch to fuel your brain and your chip-and-soda-snack-fiasco to power your appendix instead. Try to give your body a diet that avoids the drastic ups and downs of carb or sugar loading.
  • Learn your body rhythms. In a small journal, take a day and write down your energy level, hunger, focus, and mood each hour. Get a generalized idea of what your best times are, and if you can, plan your your creative and your productive work for the appropriate times.
  • What’s that you say? Too late for the above? Okay, sure. Here are some quick-fix ideas.
    • Take a 20 minute nap (and don’t forget to set a timer).
    • Have a cup of coffee or tea. Better yet, have a large glass of ice water.
    • Do 5-10 minutes of stretching or exercise.  A great way to incorporate both is to try a Sun Salutation yoga series.
  • Still feeling the blergh, but need to get a move on? Help yourself work at a lower level. Set small milestones to limp along the process. “And now I’m going to choose my topic. And now I’m going to list 3 elements about my topic (or choose color, style, and tool). And now I’m going to add detail to the first element.”
  • Check your environment. Is your music a nice background or a rocking distraction? Is your space in a high-traffic area? Is it too cluttered? Chair too comfortable? Not comfortable enough?  Don’t ignore the small annoyances if they take fewer than 5 minutes to fix.

What methods do you use to power through creative block?

Building with Creative Blocks

Here at Design Break Studios, we never suffer from creative block. Every time we sit down to do our work, it is as if a quiet hush falls over the land. The inspiration fairies come out to play, and from our collaborations, works of pure genius are born.

Sound fantastic, right? That’s because it is…a fantasy. We get creative block as often as you do, maybe even more, given the number of opportunities to get creative block when one’s field is creative by nature. For us, each day can mean the challenge of an unfamiliar subject matter, a different style of design, or different project constraints to consider.

We find that the key to defeating creative block is less about avoidance and more about resilience. So, you find yourself staring at a blank screen or piece of paper, unsure where to head next? In this post, we look at some of the causes of creative block to help you get you over the hump and on to creating.



Know your Enemy

Fortunately for us, creative block is not an unstoppable force of nature. It typically stems from one or more sources, which can be identified and addressed.  Perhaps you don’t know much about your subject. Maybe you don’t feel like you have a compelling angle. Perhaps you’re concerned that you won’t be able to come up with something that meets your standards.  Are you stressed or overworked? Even the twin devils of procrastination and distraction play a role in stopping up the creative flow.

Before you get discouraged by creative block and decide to try again later, ask yourself what it is that is preventing you from moving forward. Often, it’s a simple enough obstacle to remove. Possibly, your block won’t dissolve with time. Then, you find yourself unnecessarily stressed because you waited for inspiration to strike, instead of tackling your block when you had more time.

We feel that creative blocks typically fall into one of three categories: physical, mental, or emotional.  In the next few posts, we look at each type and offer some practical long and short-term tips for overcoming them.

Take the Challenge: You, Yes, You

Calling all bloggers, artists, business owners, managers and team leaders, teachers, and thought-leaders-in-training! This next bit is for you. Stretch your creative muscles with us.



Travel a new way.


For the month of December, we will be exploring the various kinds of creative blocks and some ideas to overcome them. Then, to help kick your new year off correctly, we will be hosting a 30-day challenge to help boost your creative skills. Each day we will post a creativity exercise to help you explore solutions to your own personal hurdles.

We’ll keep them open-ended and varied, so that you could apply the challenges to a broad range of issues, from writers block to design blahs to overcoming a business strategy snag. We’ll do our best to keep them brief: things that can be accomplished in less than half an hour, while still giving you a meaningful boost in the right direction. We’ll make them interactive; we believe that you can inspire us, too!

There will be prizes! Each week, there will be a prize winner, randomly selected from the comments on the week’s posts. The prizes will be announced each week, so stay tuned to figure out the week’s loot!

How to see the challenge posts and participate:

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