As a person working in the design industry, I am not immune to those feelings of being stuck, out of ideas and generally out of gas that seem to affect all creative types from time to time. As such a state of mind doesn't fair well with the strict deadlines of a job at a digital agency, I always try to let the survival instinct kick in and do its thing: find a way out of the block by looking outside my own head for anything that might jump start things and get the creative juices flowing again. Every time it's something different: maybe a podcast, a play session with my act, a Dribbble shot of someone else's inspiring work or maybe a blog post just like this.
With the passing of time, without realising it, I ended up putting together a collection of things that have pulled me out of a creative crisis at some point or another – a creative block first aid kit, you might say. It is in the spirit of paying it forward that I decided to share the 'kit' with you: dig in and pass it along!
- 'Your elusive creative genius', TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert – show up and do your part.
- ' Factors to Make Your Life More Creative' by John Cleese – humor and great insight.
- 'How to Overcome the 3 Fears Every Creative Faces', Uideo talk by Christoph Niemann.
- Alec Baldwin's speech from 'Glengarry Glenn Ross' – with its abrasive companion read.
- '2005 Stanford Commencement Speech' by Steve Jobs – sometimes 3 stories is all you need.
Books & posts
- 'Steal like an artist', by Austin Kleon – pocket sized format & only 160 pages, so no excuses people!
- RRRepo – because maybe rather than being creatively stuck you are just missing the right tools.
- Invision blog – read insightful thought pieces about your industry, in my case visual design.
- 'Point and Line to Plane' by Wassily Kandinsky – go back to the basics.
- 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' by Thomas S. Kuhn – to learn that science is not the steady, cumulative acquisition of knowledge, and neither is the creative process.
- 'The art book' by Phaidon – sometimes we are too focused on the present and the modern, while the solution to getting unstuck might just be hanging around a couple of centuries back.
Websites & apps
- Designers' block ideas engine – space-bar your way out of the block.
- No excuse list – you know that something you've always wanted to learn? Give it a go.
- Dribbble – look at other people's latest work: creativity is contagious.
- 1 Second Everyday app – because sometime all you need to get unstuck is to gain some perspective on your most recent achievements.
- Kickstarter – help to sponsor the next big thing. It might just inspire you to create a little something yourself.
- AM Astronaut – sign up for a productivity quote to be delivered every morning in your inbox. Effortless and effective.
- stretch – the Tara Stiles way.
- open Google Keep and make a list of what you want to get done in the next three months – the key word here is 'want', not 'have to'.
- play with your dog (or cat, or hamster or domesticated pig) – doesn't matter their shape or form, there's a lot that can be learned from animals on how to enjoy life.
- clean out and sort your bookmarks with bookmark manager Chrome extension – yes, I'm serious, you never know what you might find in that backlog of 10 months of hoarding stuff in your 'to read later' folder.
- go for the famous 'walk' – or run if you're an athletic type.
- talk to someone important to you over a glass of wine – sometimes all you really need is to talk things out.
- watch 'Yes Man' – granted, not the greatest movie in history by any stretch, but with its silly script it might just give the nudge you need to face up your challenges and open up to upcoming opportunities.