unlike those full journals in the post below this, sometimes our mind is just BLANK. today we answer the question: how do you get past the creative blocks and bad ideas?

these moments are the worst. if i feel stuck or i’m only coming up with terrible ideas i talk to one of my coworkers. i’ll share the project brief and my sketches with her and we usually laugh at my silly drawings. we’ll talk it out and sometimes one of my bad ideas will spark a different idea i hadn’t thought of before. i’m lucky to be surrounded by such a talented group of people all day and have that opportunity to bounce ideas off each other. i think that we all compliment each other very well.

if i’m at my apartment working and get stuck i take a walk. sometimes it’s just around the block to get fresh air. other times (a.k.a. most of the time) i end up at the ice cream parlor down the street. stepping back from the computer and taking a break helps my brain recharge. the ice cream also makes me pretty happy too.

i am a true procrastinator. sometimes if i start a project really early, the ideas are just blank. i just sit there and stare at the computer for hours. it’s almost like i need a tight deadline to perform well and have better ideas. i used to get really frustrated about this, but now i just roll with it. most things are going to be pretty last minute, and as long as I can make it work, then i think it’s okay.

the real issue is if i have a creative block when there is zero time to have one. in that case i have a few go-to strategies: phone a friend and vent…spend 30 minutes exploring sites on the internet i have never looked at before. everyone needs to have a couple sites bookmarked that give them that little jealous feeling inside. it’s a healthy jealous, but someone’s site that you can look at and say “man, i wish i thought of that.” this will only push you to do better. and i usually notice my best ideas come when i take a break or when i am away from the computer. your mind just needs a distraction sometimes, try not to take the creative block too seriously.

what do YOU do to get back on track?

(illustration by katie evans. here are all the advice posts over here and we love to hear your questions in the comments!)


Add your own

    YES! I needed to hear this. Bri, we are twins. I need a tight deadline to get the creative juices flowing. And if I have no time and no juices? Trouble.

    Thank you for reminding me that I’m not the only one who feels lost/blocked/NON-CREATIVE at times!

    Gabriela says:

    Both of your advices are very wise… and Bri, just for you to know, yours is one of the sites I go to when I feel uninspired (who am I kidding, I come here all the time) and where I find myself saying β€œman, i wish i thought of that.” Your work is really inspiring! πŸ™‚ THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!!

    Just so you know Bri, DLF is one of those sites for me. I know I can always find inspiration here! And p.s., I’m a procrastinator too… Procrastinators unite!

    Laura says:

    I am a major procrastinator also. As much as I hate it I’m totally learning to just accept it! I hope others come to accept it also!

    Pegah S says:

    I come up with good ideas last minute too, i wonder there has been a study on this. I like to take a break from the computer too. sometimes when i start searching for ideas non line, I realizes an hour has gone by and I am still on Pinterest, WHAT?

    Sarah says:

    When I’m stuck, I like to have more than one project going at a time so I can flip between them and let my mind work in the background on the others. Starting everything on paper and drawing out concepts before going to the computer is essential!
    Also I agree on getting out of the office – a coffee break and a chat with non-designers can be refreshing!
    And blogs! DLF and pinterest are my go-to’s right now!

    Keely Reyes says:

    I always feel better when I am able to sleep on it. If I don’t have the time to sleep on it then I always try to bounce ideas off of my husband or friends. Sometimes my best ideas come to me right when I am about to sleep or when I wake up and then I can hit the ground running!

    Lindsay R says:

    I love that you mentioned that you have to be under pressure. I can’t agree with you more. Every time in college when I would have to write a paper, the best ones came at the last minute. When I was good with my time, frankly, they sucked. My most creative moments are when I’m staying up way to late and when bold and borderline strange ideas come into my mind and they work. I figure it’s a place half way to dream land– that’s where some of my best ideas comes from.

    Christa S says:

    Procrastination, my middle name! It is great to hear that I’m not the only one out there. I wish desperately that I could engage in the process of design more, but truth be told, I hope and pray for a last minute design epiphany hours before a project is due. A good run is always my creative block outlet!

    Funny, Bri. Last night I told my husband that I was jealous (the healthy kind) of DesignLoveFest. I totally get that feeling and the inspiration it sparks.

    Carolina says:

    I can totally relate with what you said, it is like I need to be pressured to work and sometimes that can be frustrating.
    Love reading all your advices πŸ™‚

    Sarah says:

    Thanks for the advice and encouragement! I’m an writer and sometimes I just lose all creativity. I am definitely the person that needs to step away from the computer and chill out in mind numbing escapism before I go back to working.

    Rita says:

    I have a question!

    I’m mainly a print-based designer, but want to move more into web. I have very BASIC web skills. I designed my own website as well as some others, but I basically create the look in Photoshop and then slice it up and export it to Dreamweaver. I know that’s a simple way and using old school tables, but that’s all I know! I’ve been told to dive into CSS, designing with DIVS, but I get so overwhelmed because there are SO many styles out there. My brain is always working on the creative end and not so much on the coding end. I’ve taken online courses where I learn a bit and then I’m lost a couple of months later. Do you have ANY advice for me?

    Danie says:

    I have to do the same things as both you guys. Taking walks, eating, and puttering around somehow get me back on track. The times that I freak out and worry about NOT having a good idea is when I get stuck. Sometimes ya gotta walk away. Just go awaaaay. πŸ™‚

    Jimin says:

    The most frustrating thing is that blocks are so unpredictable and they always come at the worst time. While this can sound bad to some, I drink a glass of wine (or two) when I’m blocked because most times I’m trying too hard to be creative and once I relax, the ideas flow. The WSJ posted a great article that touches on this and other theories so it only reinforces the fact that wine works!


    Ella says:

    The number one thing for me is to let go of trying to come up with the best idea ever. Nothing blocks progress more than pressure to be perfect or brilliant. Just draw/write anything…even if it seems stupid at first. At the very least it frees the mind.
    I’m an architect so this might not be translatable to everyone, but I also try turning my drawing upside down, switching pen thickness (toggle between detail & broad brush ideas) or using a different media (hand drawn or computer). Trying a new approach opens up new ideas for me.
    My Pinterest boards are my jealousy generator!

    Lauryn says:

    I make lists, lists, and more lists! It always helps clear my brain…

    ; )

    Jess Davis says:

    I love this advice column. Seriously great! This along with Biz Ladies from Design Sponge really keeps me going and motivated to start my own business. When I’m having creative block I like to go out in nature or go window shopping. You never know where you might find inspiration.

    Marie says:

    Great advice! πŸ™‚

    hannah says:

    Magazines… words, layout (elle is my favorite), fashion, advertising all inspire me so much. I also get a lot inspiration from book covers.

    Oh and you’re my jealous site… love everything. What I enjoy the most is your honesty! Thank for creating a wonderful escape, I visit daily… you are very inspiring with not only design, but your words as well.



    Your site is one of those “healthy jealous” I go to πŸ™‚ thanks for being amazing

    Corinne says:

    Out of curiosity, what are your “go to” sites for inspiration, Bri? I find your designs and aesthetic so amazing!

    When I’m stuck I put on a pandora station. Music always helps me gain inspiration, and it keeps me in that mood while writing/creating. Sometimes I put contrasting music on to whatever I’m trying to achieve just to add freshness to my idea. (i.e. 70’s disco when working on something elegant or classical when working on something edgy.) It gives me a new perspective.

    Also, before I begin my yoga practice I set a mindset for what I want to achieve. I can always count on that epiphany arriving at the end of the session.

    Go for a long run. I tend to think of my best ideas while running. I’m an active lifestyle consultant, so running naturally helps me think of ideas in the realm of an active busy life.

    Robyn CM says:

    My new friends,
    THANK YOU for this blog! So exciting and refreshing. I just discovered you fabulous ladies via AT and I’m so grateful. Keep up your fun lives. I’m licking (that was supposed to read “living”, but spell check changed it and I’m leaving it) vicariously and really appreciating it. Happy spring!

    gloria waters says:

    STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER! take a walk and get some exercise. it sounds crazy, but i also pretend i don’t have a the pressure of zero time. it helps me to get my mind at a relaxed state so i can freely let the ideas flow. and MIND MAPPING. (charlene at FIDM showed me this!) is such a great tool to use to get ideas (good and bad) out there.

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