What do you do to crank the engine?

6 years ago from , Designer at Floored

When you run out of steam on a creative project, how do you reinvigorate yourself to keep going? What are your best tricks to get past "designer's block"?


  • Devon Latzen, 6 years ago

    If creativity is an engine then it needs fuel. Hitting a wall usually means the tank is empty. Do something that fuels you besides design. Whatever energizes you as a person, whether it is a bike ride or sasquatch hunting or spending time with friends. Begin working on a "someday" project that you are always delaying. It sounds a little bit Oprah, but that stuff really helps. The only thing that will definitely not fill the tank is doing more of the thing that emptied it.

    Another big help for me is to gather a ton of inspiration from other people's work (dribbble, awwwards, product hunt, etc.) . I'll take screenshots and snippets of little pieces that I find, and collect all of them into my sketch document. Usually around 20-30 snippets. Then I incorporate those patterns into my designs and modify them to fit that project's needs. That's often when I have a big original breakthrough of my own.

    Another technique I've used is to use timed iteration blasts with pen and paper. I'll say "I'm going to make 10 different versions of this in 5 minutes and then walk away." I rarely come up with a good idea directly from that, but an errant scribble will remind me of something that triggers a new thought, and then I end up having a good idea.

    Good luck!

    4 points
    • Alex HoffmanAlex Hoffman, 6 years ago

      +1 to everything Devon said.

      I have a few things I do that are creative that I sort of...reserve for myself. One being calligraphy, I find it helps reinvigorate me with creativity without having to be worried about making something that will be seen and critiqued by others.

      Big fan of inspiration, I love to read and there's so much good content getting pumped into DN and Medium.

      Learn a new tool or skill. Sometimes I just need a break from my day-to-day work and a great way to still feel productive is to try and learn a new tool or skill. There's so many new prototyping applications, maybe dive into something you've been curious about learning but haven't had the time or need to learn.

      Take some time off. I've seen this happen to so many people where they just forget they have a life outside of work. You never really realized how stressed out you really are until you relieve some of that stress.

      Hope that helps :)

      1 point
  • Andrew LeeAndrew Lee, 6 years ago

    I don't know if creativity is an engine. Maybe it's a battery and you just need to recharge it.

    When I burn out, I just stop doing anything creative and try to make myself bored and make time go by really slowly. After a few weeks/months/years of that, I'm back to normal.

    1 point
    • Simon FSimon F, 6 years ago

      Yeah it feels like energy/motivation come in waves for me also

      0 points