December 20, 2006 in Design Process, Misc

Hit a Slump, Dont Panic


Every now and then you hit a low point or slump in your creativity, a stage where you start to question yourself and sometimes your skills. The slump can bring frustration to a project very easliy and now that I am a few years into my web design career and I thought I would share my experiences with the slump and how to overcome those tiresome moments.

Remember the good times

A fellow designer I am currently working on a project with had the daunting task of making all the different parts of the website talk to one another and be outputted in a neat little bundle, he was baffled at first on how to make it work but knowing he had overcome hardships before he was confident it could be done.

He emailed me stating “I am a fucking legend !!!!!!!”. I know how he feels, because I think all designers feel that energy and buzz when we crack that bit of code, get that markup to validate or finish a mockup for a client. It really is a buzz to enjoy your work and hell if we can get paid for doing this, life is pretty spectacular!

Sleep on it

It honestly is that simple, just go to bed and try and forget about it. Have a good sleep and believe it or not nine times out of ten the solution will awake with you. I have done this loads of times, I have also not done this loads of times and sat there till the early hours of the morning sipping coffee and eating to keep myself awake hoping that my worn out mind and tired body can muster a solution.

Look for inspiration

I guess this is the proactive way of dealing with the web design slump and probably one of the best ways to find a new idea or to at least see things from a different perspective. I am not talking about website galleries, they have their uses but I always find that the inspiration from the site you are admiring is too strong and will inevitably emcompass your design.

I prefer looking away from the web, maybe a magazine or book related to the subject, photography and art galleries will have you brimming with ideas but I personally find a non-visual inspiration the most effective. Sit down with your eyes closed and listen to a good album.

I have done this many a time and found that the music somehow has colors and patterns associated with it. For instance I make very different websites when I listen to Sonny Rollins then when I listen to Led Zepplin and sometimes I end up going in a completley different direction due to a song I have listened to and will revise my design.

I really love podcasts and vodcasts and have found some fantastic shows, I will share some of these with you for when your looking for inspiration:

  • Media Artist Secrets This is a podcast for all media artists that seems to emphasize on career development, not coding and graphics but dealing with clients, being your own boss and motivating yourself etc etc, it really captures the entrepreneurship attitiude many designers posess and encourages career growth. I know that sounds like tree hugging crap but its really great!
  • Benjamin Walkers The theory of everything This is another podcast, this time not related to technology but the exploration of self, and life. Sometimes politicial, sometimes very personal and always a journey. Benjamins voice is soothing in itself and the brilliance of the shows are not to be missed
  • The show with Zefrank A Vodcast thats usually hilarious, crazy and brillaint with a mocking slant towards technology.

Plan your time

I think a big part of losing your creativity is often worrying that your not going to meet a deadline or your nerves kick in about the end product not being good enough. I have found that the best way to combat this is to plan your time. Grab a free calendar program like Mozilla Sunbird and give yourself a reachable design target to hit by the end of the week.

Then take this target date and list all the tasks that have to be completed to enable that task to be achieved. Split those tasks up over the days you have until your design target day and hey presto, you have a plan. Once you have completed your tasks for the day, you must stop. By ticking a task off through out your day you will feel like you are making progression.

Conclusion

These techniques may or may not work for you! But have you been in the slump and how do you get out the slump?


About Anthony

Anthony Brewitt is Design Bit, has been for years - he's an experienced WordPress Designer, and Muggle-born Marketing Philosopher. Let’s talk about your website; your marketing, blog design, and that cool new mobile web thingy. Contact Anthony

4 Responses to Hit a Slump, Dont Panic

  1. I find it is good to either switch off from a project and not look at it for a while and sometimes the ideas can come to you. Another good thing can be to have a group discussion at work. Often people will come up with ideas that fire my creativity and help to to come up with something great.

  2. Personally I do get affected by creativity slumps but find that if I listen to my self doubts I won’t complete anything. Furthermore I don’t have time to be unproductive. I would like the luxury of taking time out to find my creative energies but I think that the fact I don’t is motivating enough to push through.

  3. I try all different things when I hit a slump, I like writing lists. I get really methodical and try to come up with words that help my creativity (kind of like brainstorming). Then I write a list of what needs to be done, break everything down into manageable chunks. Divide and conquer!

  4. I think this hits everyone from time to time. Personally, I think looking at other sources for inspiration is the best plan, although if you look at too much top level work it can make matters worse!

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