Creative block is the worst. Don’t let it suck the joy out of your work! Hack that block with music, and your stimulated brain might reward you with new ideas.
And each uses both sides of yer brain.
My process and Spotify playlists look like this:
Stage 1 (inspiration):
The nugget is the concept fueling the design that makes you stoked to fully realize the thing. In rock terms, the nugget is the hook. A song without a hook is just background noise. Likewise, a design without one is just a
Any song can yield your nugget. Sometimes I even name my comps after my nugget song.
Stage 2 (improvisation):
Science says straight up: music triggers a dopamine release in yer brain.4 It can also relax yer brain and take you to the zone, the groove where your mind improvises, free-associates, plays, and tries random ideas that might lead to a solution.
Here, I go for repetitive, robotic, non-distracting, passive listening. Spotify knows. I hit up their ambient playlists Electronic Concentration and Deep Focus to keep me in the soup longer.
Stage 3 (implementation):
When I’m done playing and my design problems are solved, my playlist is wide open.
At this point, it’s unlikely that anything I’m listening to will leak into my finished comp. Whatever you listen to that brings your design to completion is your business—otherwise, almost everything I designed in 2013 would be stained with Lana Del Rey. This is your chance to Just Have Fun With It™.
Stage X (interstitial):
A thought on presenting
Change your mind
Music and creativity go together like peanut butter and everything else. If you’re low on creative ideas and sick of clicking through the standbys—Pinterest, Behance, Creative Boom, Designspiration, FFFFound!, Cool Hunting—switch to another of your senses and see what kind of ideas shake down from the shuffle.