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What to do when ideas aren't flowing?

benprax profile image Ben Prax ・1 min read

It's never easy when we face a creativity block. Depending on what you're interested or what you're working on whether it's writing articles, coding, making videos, etc. it's never easy to make something when you simply have no idea what to make. We try to do different things just to let the creativity flowing but sometimes it just never 'clicks' and we end up frustrated on ourselves.

As creators (programmers are creators) we love making things happen. We love to make things with our own hands and see it with our eyes and have it shared to others. And one of the best parts of being a creator is seeing people enjoy the product you've made, or even you enjoying the product you've made for yourself!

So I wanted to open up this discussion so that can share those times you faced creativity block and what you did to get yourself out of that situation and allow the creativity to flow again.

Let's write...✏️✏️✏️

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Ben Prax

@benprax

I'm an absolute noob who feeds his curiosity.

Discussion

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I do a few things:

  • Walk away. I'll go check the mail, take a brief stroll, rehearse piano, go unload the dishwater...anything that isn't at the computer. The short break helps me brain get past the speed bump.

  • Switch music. I'm probably mentally stuck on the current style, and need something different.

  • Refill. A hot, fresh mug of coffee or herbal tea sometimes helps me to "reset".

  • Change scenery. When I'm feeling especially stale, I'll find a different environment. I have a few distinct workspaces around here, or else I might walk down to the neighborhood café or library. Lacking that option, I'll put on some ambient sound (I love Noisli).

  • Accept it and move on. Sometimes I just can't work on a particular project right then, and I need to do something else for a while. When I come back later, I'm usually able to get unstuck and move on.

 

This talk helped me one big LOT. I started making stupid things, then I stopped haha. I need to get back into it. I made a codepen with random colors using JS, then I made a grid map version of it. Never done it before, not that hard, but super fun to see the living results. Then I made a screen thing that shows your pixel resolution. Then I wanted to practice a bit with SVGs in a fun way, so I tried to make Saitama. Then I wanted to make some card UI thing.

My point is, just make stuff and have fun. Don't be perfect, just be, and make.

 

Oh yeah! I really love Simone. It's because of her I learned to just make things even if its like useless. Just for fun and let the creativity flow.

Cool projects you have there! I'll check them out soon 😃

Let's continue making stuff 👊

 

I try to do something mundane that will progress me towards the end goal when I'm stuck. It may be something simple like the writing boilerplate code that needs to be set up, reformatting code, or tidying up code comments. It may not be directly solving your bigger problem, but you are exposing yourself to it in smaller ways while still being productive. Sometimes just getting going on a problem is the hardest part for me.

 

I'm a big fan of going for a walk or finding a park bench to sit and relax. Being outdoors and clearing my mind of any mental blockers can help kickstart the creative process again.

I also think a change of environment can reset our minds. I'll often try a few places - library, coffee shop, etc - until things click.

 

Yes definitely. Just like what @benhalpern said. Sometimes the change of environment and simply not thinking about can help your imaginations flow. What we sometimes consider as "waste of time" can actually help us be more productive in the long run.

 

I would first say acknowledge why you're blocked. It's perfectly fine, even a normal human trait to feel this. Are you too distracted by something (browsing the web too much), stuck in the same way (getting too comfortable means you don't challenge yourself), or being "reprimanded" for doing something you really enjoyed (getting negative responses about something that should be positive).

Yep, going for a walk is a great tactic. Or taking a shower.

I go back to blog posts I wrote years ago on projects I don't remember and get jazzed about the excitement I "used to have". It helps counter any doubts I'm currently having.

I look through unfinished projects and again see that creativity I had once upon a time.

Then it's about getting into anything and trying to forget about that cause. You can sit around and spin your wheels, or start writing something (code, blogs, etc). Sometimes you need to add a little more force to get that ball rolling again.

 

Coffee shops and public places aren’t always the best for mundane productivity, but for getting the juices going, it can be great.

I’ve definitely used the energy of a busy-but-not-crowded shop that serves good coffee and doesn’t mind people sitting around for extended periods of time to have really great productive breakthroughs.