Stuck in a Creative Rut? Try These Tips to (Re)Gain Momentum

By Jennifer Janviere

*Note: This content originally appeared on my graphic design blog, “Ready Aim Design.” I thought the theme was an appropriate one, however, as we transition from the long months of winter and our dreary, cold Midwestern spring weather into summer and many people find themselves needing an extra “push” to get those creative wheels spinning again. I hope readers find this post useful.

We’ve all been there: the project is due, the clock is ticking and you’re drawing a blank. Before panic sets in, here are some suggestions to propel your creative ideas:

Get out of your usual environment.
Sounds simple, but it works. Get up and take a walk or a drive. Try a different route than the one that you usually take. Studies show that doing something as simple as taking an alternate route to work now and then not only helps you to view the familiar in a new light, but also heightens awareness to your surroundings and staves off dementia.

Refuel your creative cache. Think of your brain as similar to the gas tank of your car. Just like your gas tank, your creativity reserves need to be periodically refueled to keep the machinery (or in this case ideas) flowing. Visit your local book store or library and page through art and design books for ideas, or go to your local art museum and just spend an afternoon feasting your senses on the abundant banquet of visual delights. Flip through old magazines or surf the web to find sources of inspiration. Keep a digital or physical file of some examples of ideas that you find, and look through it periodically to recharge the creative juices.

Just do it, already. When all else fails, just plunge in and put something, ANYTHING down on paper. Just get it out and don’t worry about being too critical initially. Let the words or design flow and go back to edit afterward. The key to making deadlines and overcoming creative block is to fight the urge to stay stuck by getting the momentum going. That first step is often the hardest part to overcome, and once you do manage to get the inertia going, ideas begin to flow more freely and in turn inspire new ideas.

Being a creative professional requires having the discipline to work through the inevitable creative roadblocks that we all occasionally encounter. It also requires the courage to explore the unfamiliar and occasionally make mistakes along the way. Artistic block is often a bi-product of the fear of failure, and the worst mistake that one can make is to remain paralyzed by inaction. It takes an initial push to get moving, but taking the first step forward is the most difficult and most important start towards building creative momentum.

Jennifer Janviere is a multimedia specialist and instructor in the Diederich College of Communication.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of Marquette University or the Diederich College of Communication.

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