You Have to Wait for a “Lightbulb” Moment and 3 Other Creative Block Myths

by Tom Kenny (@tkenny)

Creative block is an invisible beast, yet it’s always there ready to attack. However, this invisibility has resulted in some confusion. Myths are bound to appear with something as complex as creative block, so let’s have a look at some of them and dispel them once and for all.

Myth 1: You have to wait for inspiration or that “lightbulb” moment

Many designers spend too much time looking or searching for a moment of inspiration that will give them the spark to start working or create something amazing.

Unfortunately this doesn’t really work very well. Hours of your time can be wasted trying to find that all important idea or direction.

Generally, waiting isn’t going to help. A “lightbulb” moment doesn’t appear out of nowhere at the very beginning of a project. It appears as a result of all the hard work that precedes it.

When people think about Sir Isaac Newton, they think the apple falling was enough to give him the idea for his theory of gravity but the untold part of that story is his obsession with gravitational forces prior to that “lightbulb” moment. Without all the work he did beforehand, the apple falling from a tree would probably not have sparked his creativity.

Only hard work can power a “lightbulb” moment

Only hard work can power a “lightbulb” moment

It’s seductive to think the moment of inspiration is the only part of the process but you must remember it’s just a spark, igniting the work you have done up until that point. Without the hard work, the lightbulb has no power.

Myth 2: There are a limited number of ideas

Creating more ideas will lead to better work, you just have to get better at coming up with them.

James Altucher comes up with 10 ideas every day and has started successful multi-million dollar businesses as a result. Not all of his ideas are great of course but it’s enough to start finding that one true great idea.

He also recommends trying to come up with 20 ideas and this is something that has worked very well for me. Trying to think of 20 ideas is tough but it pushes you to think of ideas you wouldn’t think of had you only set 10 as your target.

Along with extensive research, this system is core to how I’m creating the best possible course I can to overcome creative block. I will also be going in-depth on idea generation as it relates to web design in the course.

Myth 3: Creative block does not exist

In my research I’ve noticed a few people say creative block doesn’t exist. Try telling that to people who struggle with it! From my own research it is clear that it does exist. The number of people who have signed up to hear when I will launch the course to overcome creative block alone tells me that it is very real.

The biggest problem is at the start of a project when there are many different directions to head in but limiting your options by finding out the goals of the project can help guide down the best path.

The people who don’t believe in creative block have their own system they rely on to get past it any time it comes up. I know the top designers do as I address in the next myth below.

Myth 4: Top designers don’t come across creative block

This is an illusion. You see the work that the best designers create without seeing the struggles they go through along the way. Just as creative block definitely exists, I can confirm that the best designers do indeed confront creative block just as much as anyone else.

The difference is they have systems they rely on to get past it as quickly and with as little energy as possible. How are they so consistently good and why do they always seem so confident? They fall back on their system when creativity doesn’t come as easily. They know how to get through the tough times every designer comes up against.

If you could do the same, you too could create better work more consistently. That’s why I’m working on a course to help you create your own system you can rely on to overcome creative blocks just like the experts. Sign up here to find out when it launches.

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by Tom Kenny

I’m a freelance web designer and front-end developer with over 7 years of experience designing for the web. Follow me on Twitter here.