Sometimes I worry that I will design myself into a corner, in which I mean that I will continue to design until I only design one type of thing and they all look the same. I know this is a worry that will never become reality, but it is still important to stay creative and looks for different sources of inspiration. I have thus created a list of ways to boost your creative juices, think out of the box, and stay out of corners.
- Carry a notebook with you. You never know when inspiration will hit. On the bus, at the coffee shop, walking down the street, in the shower. Make sure you have a notebook to scribble in, because the idea will slip out of your mind as quickly as it came in. Also, keep something beside your bed (besides your phone) that you can write in. I find ideas (or sometimes solutions to problems) come to me as I lay in bed before I fall asleep.
- Go places. In order to find inspiration, you have to go looking. It doesn’t have to be conscious, but if you spend your days sitting in front of your computer, not much is going to change. Go out and explore, try new things, talk to people. Ideas are everywhere.
- Take breaks. If you’re stuck on something, move on to something else or take a break from work entirely. I find I can only work on something for about 50-60 minutes and feel productive. After that point I need a breather, and usually, a snack.
- Collaborate with others. It’s not cheating! Work with someone on a project. Ask for feedback. Be open to criticism. Have a conversation. Recognize other peoples’ strengths and utilize them. We can’t be experts at everything, but we can combine skills and create beautiful things.
- Stay humble and keep learning. This is a good rule to live by anyways, but if you keep learning something every day, it’s nearly impossible for your work to remain the same. I put the ‘stay humble’ part in because I think it’s good to remember that we will never know everything and there’s always room to gain insight. Acting like a know-it-all and doing things the same way all the time is a guaranteed creativity killer.
- Stop trying to be perfect. Just do things. It doesn’t matter what they look like at the beginning. Get the idea down on the page and start working with it. It’s a process. It will never be perfect at the beginning and might not be perfect at the end, but it doesn’t matter. Making mistakes is a great way to be creative because we never see those coming.
- Read books. In fact, read as much as you can. Read newspapers, articles, blogs, novels, how-to books, cookbooks, whatever you can get your hands on. Not only are books a major source of inspiration, but they also keep you up on trends and vastly improve your vocabulary. I read before bed every night, and not only does it help me relax, it also fills my head with images that might spur an idea later on.
- Change your location. If you always work in the same space and you’re having trouble coming up with new ideas, move it! Try to work in a different area, go to a coffee shop, library, anywhere. I find this helps if I’m stuck on something.