Ideas don't always come easily. Sometimes that spark of inspiration takes days, weeks, maybe years to pop into your head. At ZURB we work with deadlines – ideas have to come fast so we can keep getting things done. When the ideas just aren't coming to me I've worked up a few tricks to get my head unstuck.
In many situations (but especially in design) we can get tripped up on an idea or a process. When I feel like I'm too honed in to get anywhere I force myself to unfocus – drop whatever I was thinking about and let my mind wander a bit. It takes some discipline to come back and it sounds counter-intuitive but sometimes all you need to get that spark going is to open your eyes a little wider.
And I don't just mean online. Design (both good and bad) is everywhere, and we often take it for granted. If you need some inspiration on design just look around! There are probably a dozen things right on your desk that someone thought about, labored over, sweated the details on and eventually produced – take advantage of that. Need a bigger picture? Walk around your office for a minute, or down to the end of the street. Be aware of everything around you and what you interact with to see how it was designed, how it works. There are enough small details in a mechanical pen alone to get those creative juices flowing.
Follow your thoughts
Need another push? At ZURB we're big fans of mindmapping – it's a great tool to let your ideas really go wild. Some time back I was stuck on a color palette for a client, so I got out some paper and started with 'color,' then worked my way out. Color brought me to paint, which brought me to artists, which brought me to galleries, to museums to renaissance. How did that help me? I ended up finding some great color inspiration in the works of old renaissance painters, men who spent their lives mastering color. Not an avenue I might have explored originally but now one I can turn to whenever I want.
Designers can get stuck just like anyone else. Writer's block gets all the press but I'm not so sure it's any more prevalent or serious than designer's block. Don't let yourself get stuck – inspiration is everywhere if you just know how to look. These are some of my tools – what are some of yours?