How to Get Out of Your Creative Slumps

A crowdsourced collection of tips to help you out of your creativity funk

By Casey Martin, various contributors

Folks, I am here to remind you that we are all united by a common denominator: sometimes we just can’t think of anything. There is no one in this wide, wide world that is ceaselessly outpouring ideas. And if it seems like they are, that’s only because they have mastered the art of overcoming the creative block.

Photo by Emma Kanchanawat

The creative block is an ominous and overpowering creature, but it can be thwarted if you face it head on. Which is why I’ve sought out creative thinkers from Scout and beyond — to gather the best ideas for coming up with ideas. If you find yourself in a creative funk for your next project, take a look at some of these ways you can get back into the groove:

Do something ~different~

Sometimes the best way to spark your creativity is to just change things up! Whether that’s changing what you are doing, how you are doing it, or where you are doing it, avoiding stagnancy will keep those creative blocks to a minimum.

“When I have a creative block I go do something *else* that’s creative but not in the same discipline. So if I’m stuck on writing, I’ll go try to make some music; if I’m stuck on a user journey map, I’ll go doodle.” — Sam Haas
“I take the time to read an article I’ve queued up!” — Christina Allan
“I’ll start working on another piece sometimes, which will give me ideas for the original one I was working on.” — Jessie Tabor
“Walk around the building for a few laps! Or cook something fun!” — Elizabeth Cavello
“I let myself create something without the pressure of anything (doodle on pad, knit, embroider).” — Liz Pratusevich
“Recently my process for getting back in the groove is to write down my major questions, worries, and blockers on an index card; put the card down; do like 10ish minutes of meditation or breathing exercises; then look at the card again. I find that the hardest things on the card look manageable, and the not-as-hard things on the card look SOLVABLE.” — Sam Haas
“To get back in the groove I change work locations. Environment is key.” — Madisen Hackley

Exercise!

Another way to get those ideas movin’ is to get yourself movin’! Although it is easy to spend hours hunched over your computer, getting more than just your fingers to move will be good for your mind and body.

“Working out gets you out of the physical and mental space you were in before.”- Liz Pratusevich
“I go boxing when I have a creative block to channel my focus on something else. Endorphins work wonders for your brain!” — Madisen Hackley
“I usually go for a run! I don’t try to think about anything, but I find that my mind always wanders and ideas will come to me.” — Kyle Bianchi

Embrace creative communities

Taking time to explore all the resources around you can lead you down new and exciting creative paths. This can mean talking to fellow creatives in your community, checking out the latest design trends on instagram, or even looking at your own old work! Inspiration can be found in so many different forms!

“I often turn to fine art (painting, drawing, sculpture) to inspire me when my design gears are a little rusty. Fine artists + designers share the same creative guts and there’s so much to be learned from them!” — Sarah Porter
“Look at sites like Dribbble and Behance for inspiration!” — Jena Goldman
“I talk to other Scout members for inspo! Also stalking new designers, artists, and creatives on Instagram.” — Camaryn McKenzie
“I turn to various Instagram feeds/museums/books and other media for inspiration. I also often find inspiration by attending talks and reading up on random subjects.” — Madisen Hackley
“Sometimes I go back and look at my old design stuff — even though it’s not very good (lol) it can bring me back to that space and open me up to the inspiration that i had at the time” — Sarah Porter
“I open a design book I have with hundreds of logos, or get off the computer and open my sketch book!” — Kyle Bianchi
“Talk to others — as long as I’m getting out of my head I’ll come back to my work better.” — Liz Pratusevich

Listen to MUSIC

People who make music design sounds for your ears! How groovy! Letting audio inspire your visual work can result in extraordinary and unexpected ideas.

“I get a lot of my inspiration from music! sometimes I’m just listening to the wrong thing at the wrong moment and switching it up to something completely different can totally set me on a different creative path.” — Sarah Porter
“Inspiration for me usually comes from listening to music that seems super creative or breaks the expectations of the genre it pretends to be in.” — Sam Haas

De-stress.

Remember that it’s okay to take time on things that matter! Giving yourself a break or some extra time can give you a chance to reset and get past that creative slump.

“My process to get back into the groove is to put less pressure on myself by spreading my work out over multiple sessions or days. I also try to have fun with it!” — Jessie Tabor
“I allow myself to step away from the work even if a deadline is approaching!” — Liz Pratusevich
“I take a BREAK!!” — Victoria Romulo

Sleep.

Never underestimate the power of a good long sleep.

“Sleep on it, then wake up at 4 am.” — Karisa Tzeng
“Take a nap until the last minute and I am forced to do work.” — Camaryn McKenzie

OR

These options are always available too.

“Drink more coffee!!” — Alex Gahnia
“Also, google.” — Sam Haas

At the end of the day, do whatever works for you. It may take a lot of tries to figure that out, but it’ll be worth it once you get those brilliant ideas of yours flowing once again! Luckily, creativity in itself is a common denominator in all of us too. Sometimes, you just have to go on a journey to find it.