Totally burned!

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    Ever have one of those moments where the pen in your hand feels cursed and you can’t seem to bring yourself to draw a single line? I start drawing and five minutes later I’m hucking the pen across the room and ripping up the layer of trace I was working on. I don’t know if I’m sick of the drawing, project, burned out, just not in the mood, or just terrible at everything!? I had an otherwise good day, but I just can’t do a damn thing tonight!

    Any tips or tricks for getting past the blockage?

    Just thought I’d share…Anyone want to commiserate?

    Jason Steidel

    Take a break. Do something totally unrelated and come back to it later with a fresh perspective.

    Ryland Fox


    Rico Flor

    Get that darned mountain bike and shred some slopes…no snow yet, right? Anyway, snowboard, if yer powdered already. Or sleep like there was no tomorrow…

    What’s worse is being burnt, dried up…but can’t step back because the deadline is just……THERE! That’s the moment when reality steps in and says: “You’re a registered landscape architect, part of the job, part of the service, part of the ethic. So you end up chucking the attitude and repeating the mantra: “phoenix dactylifera prosopis cinerarea lampranthus roseus…….”

    Cheers, Nick! We do understand…



    Thats exactly the scenario I’m trying to train myself for. I get pretty frustrated when I’m working on a studio project and I get burnt out on it and have to step away, because I want to be prepared to be able to push through in a professional situation. Thanks for the kick in the @%% though ; )

    We’ve got some snow here in Colorado. I’ve got about 8 or 9 days on snow thus far and plan on making that closer to 12 or so by Sunday ; ) The bike is strictly on a commuter schedule this time of year-no trail riding..brr.


    paul Hunyady

    Yeah, been there….
    I like to take a short to an inspirational place, or look at some mags to get inspired. Rest helps to, or disengaging in the biz for a few days…..

    good luck.



    I’m wondering if there is a critical period of time where it has been “too long” until you re-engage in a project or drawing. In other words, perhaps you can stay away too long?

    The project I walked away from over a week ago feels almost totally alien to me. I feel I need to spend some time rehashing things I already thought about and note observations I already made in order to complete the drawing I was to complete last week when other “projects” got in the way.

    How long is too long? Any trick to getting your head quickly back into the project?

    Clayton Munson

    I think we’ve all been there at some point. I agree that there is probably a period that is “to long” the key is to be organized so that if you are having to leave a project for some time you can come back to it and pick up where you left off without redoing to much. But with that no matter what you do, whenever you return to a project after setting it aside you will always see it a little different. I’ve had projects where they have set for a couple months without being touched either because the client put it on hold or I was waiting on city review.

    One thing that might help you to break through the wall is to put it aside and finish a project that might be near completion. Giving yourself a sense of accomplishment and new enthusiasm to finish the other one.

    It’s something that everyone needs to figure out what works best for them. As well as how long they need. things that have worked for me are walking away for a few minutes, (when i was in the studio I would take a walk around the building) or like I mentioned before working on a different project. There are even times when I would just go home and take it easy for a night and not think about it. I might have to come in early to get a couple extra hours of work in but at least I would feel refreshed and have a clear mind.

    Good Luck

    Bill Kisich

    Are you allowing yourself time to change gears? Sometimes I come in from the field or some sort of management meeting and no wy can I wrap my mind around any kind of creative work. I personally can not just move directly from one to the other. I have to coast for a bit or do something easy for a bit. Then I can get into it. Exercise is the best thing. I used to shut my door and do push ups in my office. The point is to get some blood flowing and your mind off of whatever you were doing. After that, Ice cream.

    If this isn’t what you’re talking about then as the little old lady on SNL says, “Never mind”.

    Rick Anderson

    Think about all of us out there who are doing this to get paid, put the food on the table, and pay the bills. We’re doing it for real, in real time for real consequences.

    Just sack up and get it done, it’s a project . . . commiserate, no way,

    Rico Flor

    The mags, Paul, I totally agree! Got this habit from a very creative friend…specially when designing, look at mags and books while stepping away…you’re not downright copying designs, but you’re allowing yourself to be inspired. That will give you a push, one way or another, to get your second wind. Besides…hehe, you’re bound to be too proud a landscape architect to copy designs…

    Consider refreshing, inspiring images. That’s what I get from JG Smith’s landscapes…or Chris Whitis’ image collection. Lots here. You’re among friends.

    paul Hunyady

    Hey Nick, yeah, too long is a problem…but sometimes my best ideas come when I step away…or I am sleepless and BING, the whole things comes together….for me, a week is too long..

    Lisa Town

    While this works in the school studio too, a good thing to do in an office if you are feeling that way is to get someone else involved. Chances are they could use a few minutes to step away from their project too. Just take a couple minutes and explain to them what you are doing and throw them a pen and some trace, see what happens. Chances are it will spur on more ideas.

    Sure there isn’t always time at the office step away for a long time but stepping away is good sometimes. Taking a walk to a great coffee shop and sitting with a coworker for a few minutes and just chatting can help get the mind off and refresh. Looking through books and magazines works for me as well.

    It’s tough being a creative type ­čÖé

    Ryan Sand

    im right there with you Nick, same project probably too… Glad you asked.
    Its all a balance, something Ive been working on since the beginning of the summer, and everyones ideas are all great. Its like in Elementary School why they have recess, were creative and we need the time off. A 2nd grade teacher told me is the reason everyone is pushing at, 10-15 min. of gettting the blood flowing, moving (walking, bike riding, running) is healthy for the brain. It adds much needed oxygen to the brain.

    In the summer, when I was doing the omnibus/fast track, we had to work pretty much all day. What I would do if i needed a break would be toss my lunch, headphones, and sketchbook in a bag and ride off somewhere around town. Id find any spot, even if next to a street and just sketch eat and relax (this is what I consider relaxing, read a mag like rico said if it suits you). Just a finished and well studied sketch gives a sense of accomplishment (even if its unrelated to your project) and when you get back you were productive in a whole different mindset.

    Thats one thing I do, but I really am thinkin about getting a lot more mags after that idea. let me know if you wanna grab some coffee and need a break some time too, i always do ha ha

    Russ Boatright

    As you develop a process that works for you, don’t forget about imagery and ritual. And as part of this ritual, never permit yourself to have designers’ block staring at a blank roll of trace. This is worse than useless. Much better to ponder solutions while taking a shower, or eating, or during any relaxing activity. Then, you’ll at least have a clue once you begin to draw. It works on about everything short of those surprise few hour turn around type missions. They’re a unique challenge.

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