We’ve all been there haven’t we? Staring at a blank canvas (or page/screen) with a blank brain…listening to the clock ticking in the background and wondering why we ever decided to be an artist…?
Sometimes another coffee just isn’t the answer (and that’s a hard thing for me to admit)…
It’s at times like this that you need something to kick-start those ideas. If you work in the creative industries then ideas are your currency. It’s important that you have a box of tricks to get those ideas flowing…because if they dry up, so do the paychecks!
Good ideas are like gold dust. You need to get good at finding them.
A really good habit to get into is to document your thoughts and ideas regularly. You can do this by writing them down, sketching, scrapbooking images from newspapers/magazines, keeping a photo journaI…it’s really up to you and your personal preferences.
A small selection of my notebooks and sketchbooks...
I keep a small notebook with me at all times. I usually take a camera if I’m going out too. If you’re a little less ‘old school’ than me, then most mobile devices today are a really great way of keeping your thoughts in one place…and you can take photos/videos with them too!
Some artists do this daily but that doesn’t work well for me. Instead, I try to note down my ideas whenever they occur, even if it’s just a quick note that I can fill out later.
The point is, in no time at all, you’ll grow a rich seam of ideas. So, when that empty moment comes (and it will), you can dive into your past thoughts – you’ll be surprised just how much gold dust you have!
Words can help too...I’ve always loved reading, and in today’s world, we have more access to the written word than at any other time in human history. It can seem daunting, even suffocating - so be selective but try new stuff too.
There are certain things I try to stay up to date with, developments in the art world for instance, but I make a point of exploring other fields. It’s when you can cross-pollinate your knowledge with other fields that unique and original ideas develop.
I love non-fiction. I read popular science, history, political and travel writing all the time. But for me, there’s real gold in the fiction too.
When your brain is stuck, then you need a new way of looking at the world, and this is exactly what good writing lets you do. I have a notebook where I keep powerful quotes I’ve discovered. They vibrate off the page and into my head. For me, there’s no better way of booting my brain into a new paradigm, a new way of seeing.
When in doubt, words will always rescue you.
My 'library' corner
It’s important to experiment. The suggestions above work well for me but in the end, you’ll need to try them for yourself. Let me know if you’ve found this article useful, or if you use solutions I’ve not mentioned.
…and finally, If you’re stuck and your mind is giving you 'the blue screen of death', remember that it’s only temporary. You can do something about it.