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Blank Screen S.O.S.

10 things to do when you get blocked.

At some point in time, every creative, no matter how talented, gets stuck.

Try not to panic. Or eat (again). The difference between great work and a snooze fest is often how well you’re able to get yourself unstuck, to demand more from your brain, even under deadlines.

Here are 10 ways to shake things up keep delivering the good stuff when it counts.

  1. Scream. Yeah, that’s right. Scream. There’s something about this act that shakes away blockages. It’s just primal, it gets your frustrations out, it gets you to feel things, and it puts you in the present moment.
  2. Watch a movie. Specifically, a movie that celebrates creativity. The kind that invigorates you and gets you inspired all over again. “Dior et Moi” works every time.
  3. Call a Creative Breakfast. Get together someone you know who’s in creative, too, and share a morning meal. Ask what they’re working on. Ask what they’re reading. You’ll get home ready to work. And have the whole day still ahead of you. And if you can’t get out for a Creative Breakfast, have one with Honor Code on Sundays on insta @honorcodecreative (!)
 Creative Breakfast in progress.

Creative Breakfast in progress.

4. Go outside. You can’t be creative when you’re home all the time, and not interacting with what’s out there. Find a spot in nature. Leave your phone at home. Take a notebook and a Sharpie and see what happens.

5. Go downtown. You can’t be someone who creates consumer-facing work without understanding what consumers see and interact with. Look at the messages. Look at the colors. See what effectively disrupts you.

6. Lose the screen. Sometimes it’s sitting at a screen that blocks you, the anticipation and expectation of that. Try creating without a screen. Sketch. As a writer, if something doesn’t flow, I try dictating to Siri while I walk. It just gets things going in a different, conversational way.

7. Take a poll. Ask a few friends or family members who are closest to your target audience about the subject. You might get some insights that surprise you, a different angle in, a nugget of something that didn’t occur to you before.

8. Pin. Create a new, secret pinboard just for the specific task. Don’t use your existing pins. Instead, keep searching Pinterest in different ways that relate to your subject. Don’t stop until you’ve got at least 40 pins.

9. Word cloud. Go back to all the source material and notes you have since you first started the project. Read it again, with a blank piece of paper beside you. Write down words that stand out. Use what’s on that pad to search Pinterest, or just to re-start your thinking.

10. Take your pulse. Your happiness pulse. Is this really just a little blockage, or is it something bigger? It’s always good to listen to those signals, and I’ve finally learned to. Maybe you just don’t like the work (in a bigger way than you’d rather be watching Dior et Moi). If you have a business, maybe it’s something you want someone else to work on or draft for you, and you’ll review/revise. Maybe it’s a client that you now realize you shouldn’t do more projects with. It’s always good to listen to what your body and brain are telling you. These are your MVPs, after all. Even on an off-day when you feel like you want to scream.

Rachel Solomon