When ideas get stuck

I recently posted an article about inspiration and how to beat designer’s block, but today I ran into an issue that was quite similar yet altogether different. I don’t know if there’s a term for it so I’ll describe it: When you have this brilliant idea and plan and you sketch it out on paper and get ready to put it into designworks but as you progress you realize that the product isn’t nearly what you had originally thought up. In fact, it looks quite awful outside of your mind.

You think to yourself: How could such a terrible, odious thing be born from this beautiful creature in my imagination?

I don’t claim to know the answer but I know the feeling. In the past, these are the projects that make me lose faith in myself and my own skills as a designer. Today I tried something new though. Instead of scrapping the project and starting over, I listed the differences between my imagined idea and the tangible idea that had come from it.

What I found was interesting. The differences were so far and numerous that I realized I had gone off track somewhere very early on in the planning stage. Examples of these disparities include the following: mood, graphic elements, typographical hierarchy, white spacing, colors. It was all wrong!

I’m going to start referring to this phenomenon as a “stuck” idea. I ended up revisiting the planning stages and reworked some pieces that I noted in my list. The results were undeniable–this ugly duckling had finally started to grow up into the swan I wanted it so hard to become.

So, lesson learned: planning is everything–it is the part of the process that determines how everything will end up looking.

This was the lesson for me at least. I’m wondering if anyone else ever experiences these stuck ideas and what they are doing about them.