When color-coding your pens finally loses its appeal and the blank computer screen continues to mock you, borrow a tip from Alex Cornell's new book, Breakthrough! Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination. He surveyed creative leaders, who have plenty of tricks.
"Nothing clears the head in an instant or makes a grown man cry like spicy food. When you're done with the tears and the sweating, everything seems insignificant compared to what you've just endured."
—Felix Ng, designer and founder of Silnt
"In the end, a deadline is always the best cure for creative block. I sometimes artificially induce this feeling of panic by making public commitments to people about presenting work on a particular day. It works reasonably well."
—Ben Barry, graphic designer at Facebook
"Check into an expensive hotel. Bring whatever you need to get hopped up: candy, bourbon, coffee, nicotine patches. Also, pants with an elastic waist. Give the remote to the front desk. Now, write 10,000 words. If you feel blocked, just think about all the money you're wasting."
—Claire Dederer, journalist and author of Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses
A version of this article appeared in the September 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.