Beating Creative Block: 10 Ways to Bring Back Creativity

Articles April 17, 2013

As creative people, there are those days that our brain seems dead. No ideas coming in, run out of creative fuel while thinking of the deadliest deadlines of projects on going. Commonly known as creative block, many are faced with this kind of situation either caused by personal problems, mental block, emotional barrier, communication breakdown, etc. All people in the creative industry is experiencing it. A writer, designer, painter, sculptor or even an art director is once faced with this frustrating situation. Although creative block is inevitable and creatives can overcome it from time to time, it should not be ignored for it can actually be career damaging.


Beating Creative Block


If you are feeling stuck and doesn’t know where to start and what ideas to pitch in, then you are experiencing a creative block. Well, don’t panic. Relax. If there are various causes of creative block, there are also numerous ways of breaking through it.

Here are ten of the most common and effective ways of beating creative block (based from my personal experiences) to help you guys bring back that little spark of creativity you need!






Before going to any other actions, try to assess yourself. Ask yourself questions like,

-  Why am I not motivated?

- What is blocking my way to pitch in the idea I need?

- I am missing something, what is it?

It is important to answer questions like this first before jumping into conclusions that you are facing a creative block. Identifying them might just be the simplest way to get you going with your design work.

Other (unecessary) questions that might arise:

- How can I possibly pay the rent this month?
- Who the hell destroyed my roses in the garden!?

Nay! Thinking this sort of things  while working on your design will definitely NOT help!






Print is always one of the most effective sources of inspiration. Books and magazines are on top of my list. Read a fiction, an illustrated children’s book, a photography catalogue or a fashion magazine. Fictional books will tickle your imagination work while magazines enhance your judgement in design.






There is always something more over the Internet than porn and Justin Beiber. There are numerous blogs and online portfolios out there that showcase the best of the design world. Try browsing them for the creative sauce you need. Or better yet, go to the nearest art gallery and be inspired. What I like most about art galleries and museums is that seeing actual artworks personally gives me that rare creative feeling. It’s like you have that instant connection with the artist by just looking at their works first hand.






Grab a pencil and a sheet of paper then start doodling. Sketch anything you have in mind. Through this, you can sharpen your drawing skills and your random scribbles might just be an effective ingredient in formulating that kick ass design concept. This is why sketching is always an important factor in every design process.






Shut down your PC for a while. Take a walk and try to see the awesome things outside your workstation that you are missing every single day. Unwind. Get away for a day or two. Having a break or a short vacation can recharge your creative self and get back to work the next day overflowing with creative awesomeness!






Another effective way to fight creative block is by listening to some music. I usually turn on the speakers in high volume whenever I work on a design. The beat of the songs gets me going, as if it supplies creativity into my brain. Sometimes, some of my artworks and designs are actually inspired by the songs I play while working on them. It worked for me so why not give it  a try!






Having a conversation to other people outside your work or industry can help you solicit ideas that might help you overcome creative block. What’s good about talking with OTHER people is that you can have an idea of their own take on random things. A casual conversation with other passengers you met on a train might just give you that creative spark you need based from their shared thoughts.






You are experiencing a creative block probably because you are not asking enough questions about your project. Who is your target audience? What do they need? Do some more research about your project. How do other designers do it? A creative spark starts from a well-planned concept and idea before laying it out on pixel or paper.






Get some sleep. Then sleep more. According to a study cited in an article in The New York Times, those who slept more showed improved mental agility including the ability to make novel connections between disparate ideas. In other words, people are more creative after sleep. Sleeping will not only recharge your body but your brain capability for those aha! moments as well.


10. PLAY.




Work hard. Play harder. Playing is not just for kids but for adults as well, especially those who need to be creative. In a TED talk of Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, he mentioned that “creating an office in which people have the security and comfort to play and not be judged allows them to take more creative risks”. I have this set of Anime action figures on my working station. Whenever I feel less creative, I play target shooting with them and get back to the design I’m working on feeling more creative. Play is a doorway to curiosity, discovery and creativity.


There you have it guys! Many of the above mentioned tips worked for me in beating creative blocks. While some have common ways of breaking through it, some may have tried crazy ways such as doing the household chores, repainting an entire room, or pulling out all the weeds on the neighbor’s backyard. But whatever ways you take as long as it brings back your creative self, then it’s worth trying!


Beating Creative Block



Now it’s your turn! How do you deal with creative block?


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Kerby is an online marketer who has a keen eye in print design and creative artworks. When not at work, he spends most of his time in completing his sketchbooks with doodles and illustrations from anything that inspires him to draw. He is an avid fan of Japanese Anime, manga and some comic book characters. Check out his illustration blog and portfolio for more info.

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  • Carter Jensen

    I like the unplug, walk tip. getting some fresh air and allowing the blood to flow a little does wonders for me. Exercise helps a lot too. I like to jump on a rebounder(small trampoline) to get my heart rate up.

    • Kerby Rosanes

      I definitely agree with you Carter. A sudden change of environment by taking a vacation is such a great help. :) Thanks for your comment. :)

  • designer jen

    The doodles are pretty adorable. And there are plenty of times I need to remember the importance of play when I’m stuck trying to plow over a problem that I can’t get past. Sometimes I just needs to step away and get back to what first inspired me to make art; like sitting in the grass with a sketchbook. Also, I lol’ed on the sleep part. Where do you get sleep?

    • Kerby Rosanes

      Hi jen. I used to do that “sitting in the grass with a sketchbook” way back in college to get away with those Calculus equations. lol. Where do I get sleep? At the sleeping quarters of the office. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and liking my quirky doodle creatures. :)

  • Zell Liew

    Hey Kerby!

    I agree with most of your points about beating creative block. Of the 10, I find using (1) assesing myself, (5) unplug and (9) sleep more often than the rest of them.

    In 90% of the scenario, simply assessing myself and noticing how I feel can bring about increased energy levels and some breakthrough thinking in what I was doing or wanted to do, and I can’t stress that point enough.

    Sometimes taking a hot long shower gives me some bright ideas as well.

    Side note:

    Your drawings are good! I absolutely love them! I really want to know how did you first learn to draw. Did you focus more on inanimate objects, sketching real life items?

    I’m asking this because I tried picking up drawing thanks to your previous article. I was trying to doodle today and my doodles were absolutely horrible :(

    • Kerby Rosanes

      Hi Zell,

      Glad you find this article useful. I agree with your point in self assessment. And thanks for the hot shower tip. Sounds odd but definitely worth trying. :)

      Thanks for loving my characters. Drawing them makes this article easier to write. Well, as far as I can remember, I started drawing way back in pre-school. I remembered having this hard homework in our drawing subject where each of us have to draw our idea of a dream house. I tried doing it by myself on my workbook but I ended tearing up its pages because of my horrible drawing attempts. My mom came to the rescue and drew a simple house at an instant. It was absolutely adorable! That motivates me to learn drawing. I started drawing faces of my schoolmates, then characters from my favorite ’90s Anime series, and so on and so fort.

      So don’t be discouraged when your doodles look awful in your first try. Maybe you are just facing another creative block. XD

  • John W

    First off, I love the illustrations. When I get hit with creative block, the two best things for me to do are to take a break (go for a drive, walk, etc.) and to look for inspiration either in print or on the web. Sometimes I even look for inspiration before and after the break. What that does it give me time to look through various areas of inspiration, then the break gives me time to process what I have seen (that really great logo design might have looked cool before the walk but after you realize it really does not work for what you are doing) and to determine if it would be a good solution to the design problem. After the break, I can then further look for more specifics of the inspiration. Say I need to create a company t-shirt design, I may start with looking for examples of company uniform/t-shirts, during the break process what I have just seen, then when I come back I can look for more specific designs, etc. now that I am starting to get back onto the path of creativity.

    • Kerby Rosanes

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts John! :)

  • MicroSourcing

    Looking for inspiration offline can help digital artists spark their creativity again. They spend so much working in front of computers and other devices that it can limit their vision.

    • Kerby Rosanes

      Well said! Thanks for stopping by. :)

  • Jackie at Webydo

    There are some really fantastic tips here. These creative blocks are very common and should be taken seriously. You bring up some great ideas – getting away from work for a little bit can be all it takes to get our creative juices flowing again. Sometimes the block happens because you don’t know enough information, which is why it’s SO important to ask questions about what your designing, who your designing it for and what purpose you want it to serve. Once you’re well aware of what the general idea of the design and you make sure to take the proper breaks – the ideas will be unstoppable. And of course, like everyone else said – love the doodles! :) I’ll be sharing your post with our designer community.

    • Kerby Rosanes

      Hi Jackie,

      Thanks for sharing your insights. I strongly agree that ideas will be unstoppable when proper breaks are taken. Go ahead and share all the love and thanks for liking my doodle creatures! :)

  • Daniel Whelan

    A very good read, you’ve helped me a lot. Thank you sir.

  • fadli

    thanks for sharing , its very helped to me when i lost of creativity i :D thanks a lot sir

  • Luigi Petrut

    For me, nothing works better than a long walk, some piano music, and a cup of green tea.