60 Seconds #329 : 10 Ways to BREAK the Creative Block for designers, illustrators, writers

by Fred Showker

10 Ways to BREAK the Creative Block If you think you've got the creative block, don't think you're alone. We all get it, and we all have to break it. I've been doing this for nearly half a century. During my seminar days, the creative block was one of the most popular questions from attendees. "Fred, how do you get creative ideas?" ... "How can I break writer's block?" Everyone has his or her favorites. These have proven over the years to work... try'em out next time you're stuck for a story, a drawing, and ad concept or anytime you need a creative jumpstart.

1. It's a TV Game show.

Get ready, get set, GO ... start writing! Start writing whatever pops into your mind, like "the other day I was... " or "The guy on the corner is a ... " Just write. Don't worry about your writing -- grammar or flow -- just write. After a page or so, go back and check for flow, accuracy, punctuation and spelling, grammar and so forth. (If it's visual concepting, then just start drawing!)

2. Air it out.

Go for a walk and break the thought train. Creating anything original or creative takes time. Walk briskly and your mind will consider what you want to write about. When you return, you'll be ready to put words or pictures on paper. Creativity is an exercise -- physical exercise is as important as mental.

3. Spout off on your idea

Once in a while it releases the brain to talk about it. If you're having trouble getting your idea on paper, then make it audible instead. Verbalize to yourself, or a friend. When you 'hear' your ideas, the ideas will gel and you'll be able to put them on paper.

4. Switch writing posture

Change your point of view or your approach. Like start by writing your name over and over. The act of writing will unlock the writing center of your brain. Write it as if someone else told you. Write it as if you're writing a speech. Write it as if it were a TV commercial.

5. Flip and then re-flip

This used to be an exercise in my 'Creative Layout Techniques' seminars. Everyone in the seminar got a copy of a popular, consumer magazine like Vogue, Home & Garden, Family or People. Now, flip very rapidly through the pages until finished. Do not hesitate, just keep on flipping. Now flip through again, but this time STOP and tare out any page that makes you stop to look. Close the magazine and spread out your torn pages to see them all at the same time. Ask questions: what made me stop? How is this different than that? What are the images doing? And so forth. Suddenly you'll have too many ideas to write about.

6. Make an appointment with yourself.

Schedule a writing time on your calendar just as you would any other appointment. You do keep your appointments, right? Come to the appointment with a list of topics you need to write about.

7. It's just a few minutes

We're all children at heart, and we hate to spend long hours facing a blank computer screen. Instead, give yourself permission to write for only 10 minutes. If you are on a roll, continue. If not, quit until another day. (Or, until your next appointment!)

8. Make it worth your effort

Nothing beats rewards. Give yourself something wonderful when you finish your project. Just keep your promise -- and make the reward something you don't often get! My reward is the veal Marsala at Emilio's restaurant!

9. Give the Devil his due

I'm STUCK, darn it! Just admitting that you're stuck sometimes breaks the block. If we try too hard, the block could last much longer. Just for today, move on to something else and come back to writing another time.

10. Suck it up.

You're a professional. Suck it up and WRITE, DESIGN, CREATE and GET OVER IT. There are days when every creative doesn't feel like writing. Did you think you are alone? Sometimes, you just can't think of anything creative -- but you have a deadline. Practice some of the above tips, then sit down and DO IT. Just remember: professionals always start and finish, on time!

If you're really stuck ... just send me a little note of what you're working on . . . I'll send back five ideas you never thought of. Creative jumpstarting is what I do best. It's why my seminars were so successful, and why DT&G has been successful for over 26 years.

And, thanks for reading

Fred Showker

      Editor/Publisher : DTG Magazine
      +FredShowker on Google+ or most social medias @Showker
      Published online since 1988

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