Getting through creative work when you’re feeling completely uninspired is undoubtedly frustrating, and unfortunately unavoidable—even for the most creative people out there. While you’ve probably tried all kinds of things for getting over creative block, we’re here to shed light on some unexpected alternatives that just might surprise you.
We asked our designer community what their most unexpected technique was to get their creative juices flowing, and we’re finally excited to share all of their awesome recommendations.
The next time you find yourself staring at a blank page, try using some of these techniques that will surely offer you a different perspective into the creative process and help you create your best work yet!
1. Take a shower
Hands down, one of the most popular responses for sparking creativity was taking a shower. Who would have thought that getting clean had so much to do with inspiration? From piping hot showers, cold, long and short showers, so many of you like to use this time to generate new ideas. Whether you’re staring at the wall or singing your heart out, taking a shower proved to be an optimal time for inspiration to run wild.
“It’s kinda weird, but in a hot shower. I can be really empty of ideas, and then I take a hot, long shower and poof — I step out of it with at least three illustration ideas.”
2. Do mundane tasks
Some of the best ideas strike out of nowhere when we aren’t stressing about it. With that being said, partaking in activities that are completely unrelated to your creative projects can be very beneficial. Whether it be, cleaning the house, doing the dishes, or ironing, so many of you mentioned that your best ideas come from doing the most mundane tasks — yes, even chores!
“Mundane tasks allow my mind to wander and create without pressure.”
3. People watch
Try taking a walk or a drive just for the sake of people watching. Observing passerbys doesn’t have to be creepy! It’s all about opening your eyes to the world around you and consciously making an effort to notice things you may not notice at first glance. Take it from Billy:
“There are a lot of interesting people that are unaware of how animated they really are. I visualize them in a cartoon world. Behind them are all of the bars, small businesses, and contracting companies that are in dire need of a brand ‘facelift’. Then I picture the street as if I created everything myself. It’s quite fun.”
4. Take a nap
You may think that taking a nap sounds completely counterproductive, but it seems to work well for a lot of designers! Many of you mentioned pulling inspiration from your dreams or amazing ideas striking you right when you’re on the verge of falling asleep. Just make sure to keep a notepad and pen by your bedside so you can jot down those awesome ideas and remember them when you wake up!
“New ideas strike me just when I start falling asleep or in my dreams.”
5. Zoom out
Sometimes, all you really need to do to get back in your creative groove is step back and look at your work in a different light. Step away from the computer for a bit and come back to your work with fresh eyes, or try Abhishek’s technique — he zooms out of his work (literally) and from this perspective he’s able to draw new ideas:
“Look at something in small size. It helps me discover new patterns.”
6. Riff-off of your old work
A great way to generate new ideas if you’re feeling stuck is to go back and look at your old work—whether it be finished or unfinished projects. You might be inspired to improve upon a design you didn’t like so much in the past, or use it as a starting point to create something totally new.
“One of the ways I try to jump-start my engine is to go through a backlog of never-ending files/projects I have stored. These files have dozens of elaborate shapes that I use as a starting point for something new. It’s a way to continue the work I’ve already started when I had a surplus of creativity.
7. Immerse yourself in another world
While traveling somewhere new was a popular answer, we can’t always hit the road at any given time. However, many designers shared that doing something as simple as playing a video game, watching a movie, or binging a show was helpful to them in inspiring creativity.
“Playing video games always helps! Immerse yourself in fantasy worlds where creative ideas and inspiration are abundant.”
8. Get in the car and drive
That’s right—take a joyride! If you’re lucky enough to own a car, get in and just go. Even if you don’t have a specific destination in mind. Many of you mentioned that hopping behind the wheel by yourself and blasting your favorite tunes is all that it takes to refresh your mind. Need some music recommendations? Try listening to instrumental beats like FreshCake:
“A car ride plus instrumental beats, usually turned up really loud.”
9. Try cooking a new recipe
Another surprising activity to spark creativity is cooking (or baking). Even if you aren’t an experienced chef, being creative in areas that aren’t your specialty helps to reset the mind, and think in new ways. Many designers talked about cooking as a means of getting over creative block—whether it be trying out a new recipe, or even just watching a cooking show. Using your creativity in different mediums seems to be plenty helpful:
“I like cooking a new dish. It helps me with looking at new ways to approach a project/meal”
10. Make something ugly
This sounds easy, right? Instead of trying to spew out a perfect design from the get-go, accept imperfection and keep trying to improve upon your work. After all, it can only get better from there. Keep failing, and you’re bound to land on something that eventually works. Just remember to have patience with yourself and accept that failure is a part of the creative process!
“Leaning into a bad idea or concept, then make it work”
We hope you enjoyed reading these unexpected ways to spark creativity and overcome creative block! Thank you so much to all who shared their answers with us on Instagram. Keep your eyes out for future community questions on our social channels — we want to keep hearing from you!
- Survive creative burnout: 8 techniques designers swear by
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- Inspiration: Where to find it and how to keep it