Designer's Block

Eyes involuntarily wandering over the wall clock with your forehead frowned with despair. Just a few more hours to go. Another sip of that glorious black coffee. Then Skype suddenly pops up saying, what seems to be a potential debacle of your career, "CEO Boss says: I expect a sharp mock-up design from you". You go back to open your Photoshop and stare at the blank canvas you have been desperately trying to fill. Nothing. Nada. Ziltch. Zero.

Every now and then, we come face to face with this huge white wall that blocks out all of our creative ideas. When a near deadline is looming over our heads, we start to panic and fate starts to toy with us. Testing our patience and sanity. It’s in these situations when we have to reevaluate our perception of what works and what doesn’t.

Below, I have 8 tips on how to counter attack your designer's block and, well, save our asses from our Boss.

  • Take a breath of fresh air / step outside. Just go outside and take a break. It is a change of environment and a change of pace. Good air in, bad air out. However don't expect that once you're outside, ideas will start flowing in. You are not taking a break if you are still squeezing your brain to spit all those wanted ideas. Just relax and enjoy the scenery and bask under the Sun's glory.
  • Drink coffee or go to the nearest coffee shop. Caffeine is known to be mentally stimulating. For many writers and designers, coffee is a dependable friend. If you have time to visit a coffee shop, go there with a pen and paper. Use the sights and sounds to help sketch out ideas for your design and you will find that you can think better if you are not really trying to think at all. I don't know why but there is something utterly mentally rousing when you're in a coffee shop drinking your favorite brew.
  • Listen to music. Just put on those headset and drown yourself with your favorite tunes. Music , as they said, is food for the soul and for the creative mind. You might have noticed that listening to a certain genre of music might cause you to design a certain way. Use the mental “flow” you get from music to your advantage and it will set up your entire session. I would like to share that when I need to get into my "zone", I listen to Hooverphonic, Damien Rice, Skunk Anansie, Tori Amos, Dishwalla and to many more artists who are more less akin to the ones I've mentioned.

  • Flip through design books or surf the web for some design sites. Doing this can help cure almost any creative dry spell. There's a chockablock of designs found in books or websites that can aid in cudgeling one's brains and finally emancipating your imprisoned ideas.
  • Talk with Colleagues. If you're in one room with your colleagues. Talk to them when time permits it and if you're not busy. If you are a freelancer who is mostly doing solo flights, talk to your fellow designers via skype, YM, AIM or any online chat medium. Often when you can have quick brainstorming sessions these little chitchats can open your mind to new options. Remember, two heads are better than one.
  • Straighten up your desk. When arranging, you momentarily keep your mind off the deadline and the pressure. After the clean-up, your mind is more relaxed and refreshed because of two things: Your mind got that needed break from work and a organized environment is conducive for creative thinking. Organizing your desk and your mind will ultimately help you unleash those locked thoughts.
  • When all else fails, just do something. Doodle, scribble, sketch and just get on with your work. It's better than your brain spinning in frenzy from desperation. It may be hard at the first but sooner or later ideas will start flowing in. Don't wait for the next creative wave to hit you, rack your brain and just do continue adding layers of images and colors to that blank canvas of yours.

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