Given there is no “cure”, or one-size-that-fits-all method of beating it, creative block is something creative types simply have to tolerate. While a thoroughly disconcerting state, especially while in the midst of it, many artistic and creative people have gone on to do their finest work after prolonged periods devoid of inspiration.
Can creative block be cured? I think not – I doubt the “medical” help Dr Dahl gave Rachmaninoff made a huge difference. But perhaps he encouraged his sense of worth, his confidence and self-esteem. Certainly, after that black depression he never reached such depths again – though so much of his music continues to conjure feelings of sadness as well as elation in its listeners.
25 artists and creatives talk about how they deal with creative block.
Jeffrey Zeldman: the best time to write is when you feel inspired, as opposed to when you’re tired, racing to meet a deadline, etc.
Work is work, and we must do what we must do. But when quality matters most, the old saw about “good or fast – choose one,” holds true. Pushing through to the finish line when you have nothing left inside you is great for marathon runners, but not so hot for creative professionals. In particular, if you’re trying to write clearly and well, it’s better to let a deadline slide by a day than to “just finish up.”
Cameron Moll tackles creative block… by comparing it with abseiling. But is what feels like “making something out of nothing” really akin to scaling a rock face?
What you’re ultimately trying to accomplish when filling a canvas is the exercise of solving a problem. In my experience, rarely have I designed an interface for the likes of which someone else hadn’t already designed something similar. I find solace in scrutinizing how others have solved their design problems, and I also find it lends guidance for solving mine. Note that I’m not talking about finding influence among the litany of gallery sites on the web, but instead learning from the mistakes and successes of others.
As terrified of heights as I am (standing on the edge of precipice sort of heights) I sometimes think descending a rock face could be easier than filling a blank PhotoShop canvas.
Once you’ve overcome the fear of taking the plunge, metaphorically speaking, you are left with the task of carefully guiding yourself to the ground. Then again design can be surprisingly similar.