Beating “Makers’ Block”

When attempting to inspire the world with your creativity you may encounter despair as ideas fail to flow into your head. We understand that finding the right idea can be tough, but luckily there are many ways to overcome the initial brainstorming process. Whether you are someone who enjoys the company of others or somebody who prefers to spend quality time alone, we’ve compiled the top ten method we use to beat bouts of “makers’ block” at Digilent.

Learn how to make your own DIY Prosthetic Hand here.
Learn how to make your own DIY prosthetic hand here. Photo from Instructables.

Find Inspiration from Others

One of the best ways of beating “makers’ block” is asking others around you for ideas or inspiration. People we know, and even strangers, are amazing resources for inspiration. What is important to someone else may be an idea you never would have thought up on your own. If others know about your interests, but have no experience in what you specialize, they may have extraordinary recommendations of ideas they may not feel confident in creating themselves.

Learn how to make Zuno Clip Creatures here.
Learn how to make Zuno Clip creatures here. Photo by Quinn Sullivan.

Use Something New

If asking others for inspiration is too forward, then trying to use a new product is another great way of beating any sort of creative block. Pushing ourselves to learn new skills is a great way to arrive at new ideas, especially when learning about communities you never knew existed. Have you ever wanted to try your hand at wearables? Or have robots always fascinated you, but you have never tried making your own? Learning new skills by using products you have never used before could be the start of a fantastic hobby you never previously considered.

Learn how to make your own Digilent Cookie Cutter here.
Learn how to make your own Digilent cookie cutter here. Photo from Instructables.

Switch Activities (and Lower Stress)

When despair is weighing you down as you scour your brain for new ideas, sometimes giving yourself a break is all you need to inspire creativity. Be careful not to understand this advice as a suggestion for procrastination, as putting off your work can often result in greater stress down the road. However, if you find yourself buried under a lack of inspiration, try to allow yourself to relax and remove your stress by starting a new activity. Often the removal of stress will help you visualize your greatest invention yet! So try setting a timer and changing gears for an hour to allow yourself to restart with a fresh mind, then watch the ideas flow.

Digilent Instagram
Check out the Digilent Instagram for more photos like this! Photo from Instagram.

Change Up Your Scenery

If switching activities is not enough to jumpstart your creative process, you can try changing up your scenery by going outside or visiting a place you enjoy. Taking a walk can help get your blood flowing and is another great way to remove the stress from figuring out a new project idea. Visiting places you enjoy, such as walking around a local park or visiting a bookstore, may help inspire new ideas that relate to your surroundings as we regularly find inspiration from the places we enjoy the most.

Learn how to make the Monster Book of Monsters here.
Learn how to make the Monster Book of Monsters here. Photo by Quinn Sullivan.

Make for Someone Else

Without ideas for projects you want to make for yourself, choosing to make a project for someone else can be a good source of inspiration. Giving others gifts is always appreciated, especially when the gift shows some consideration for the other person. And if you feel like everyone you know would not appreciate your project (they most likely will), design a project around a famous person of interest. What might Alexander Graham Bell have needed before or after patenting the telephone? Maybe your project could solve any potential problems he may have encountered while alive.

Screenshot taken from Instructables Contest page.
Screenshot taken from Instructables Contest page.

Compete in an Online Contest

As social media has spread across the Internet, another fantastic way to look for inspiration is reviewing the current contests held on popular maker websites. Instructables is a great resource that we use regularly here at Digilent, and they regularly post new contests with enviable prizes. The contests may issue some guidelines for entry but these guidelines often present community members with project ideas. And if the current contests are of little interest to you, try checking out the recent projects made here at Digilent!

Learn how to make your own Legend of Zelda Musical Chest here.
Learn how to make your own Legend of Zelda Musical Chest here. Photo from Instructables.

Spread Awareness or Passion

Are you extremely passionate about a certain topic? Try creating a project focused on your passion or alternatively spread awareness about a current events topic that hits home. Spreading awareness about a topic you are passionate about is a good way of starting conversations or adding to a current conversation online.

Learn how to make your own Monstrous, Moving, Monster Book of Monsters here.
Learn how to make your own Moving, Monster Book of Monsters here. Photo by Quinn Sullivan.

Improve Upon Something Old

Have you ever used a product that you did not fully appreciate? Improving upon something that has been made already is a common technique in the industry. Solving an issue or problem that is important to you is a well-established method of creating new products and could present a great idea for your next project.

Photo by Quinn Sullivan.
Photo by Quinn Sullivan.

Make Something You Wish Existed

When brainstorming new ideas, the best idea often relates to projects you wish existed. Making something that is not available, as far as you know, can likewise inspire others who are searching for their own great idea or enjoy the concept you created. These ideas can arise from social media, online communities, or even movies and television shows. Ever imagined owning a hoverboard from your favorite 80’s movie? With a little work and research you may be able to replicate a project you once aspired to own as a kid.

Learn how to make your own composition book covers here.
Learn how to make composition covers here. Photo by Quinn Sullivan.

Keep a Journal

Our last tip for idea generation to get you out of any “makers’ block” is starting a journal. While you may be struggling to arrive at ideas currently, if you start jotting down ideas when they arise you will hopefully not have to worry about defeating “makers block” in the future. If carrying a journal is too much work, then turn to your smartphone or other electronic device to write down ideas while on the go.

Whether aspiring to create the next best music device or designing your own airplane, make sure you set your sights at reasonable goals so that you refrain from getting overwhelmed. If your goals are beyond your present abilities, just remember that there is no shame is asking for help or researching new techniques online (like these references sources). We hope that these suggestions help you discover your next great idea and we look forward to seeing what you create!

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About Quinn Sullivan

I am an apparel merchandiser who found comfort in the world of electronics after discovering a passion for making projects with copious amounts of glitter. Every day I work on learning and uncovering novel solutions that guide me towards solving life’s little problems. My optimism and two rescue puppies have kept me sane throughout this endeavor as I figure out how to blend two diverse backgrounds in fashioning something amazing that will eventually lead to world domination.

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One Comment on “Beating “Makers’ Block””

  1. Hi Quinn,
    I find make for someone else most helpful. I like to paint but I can never think of what to paint unless I am painting for someone else. I’ll have to try making to spread awareness.

    I wonder if anyone else has anything that works for them. The more ways to break makers block the better I think.


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