Usually when I start a design project I reflexively go to the internet to scan design inspiration sites with the vague mission of becoming “inspired”. Occasionally scratching something in my notebook.
Recently, I sat down to start coming up with logo ideas for a visual identity project. I noticed that when sketching near my computer, if I hit a wall mentally or felt like the ideas weren’t flowing, I went to the internet for answers rather than grappling with the problem internally a bit longer. Browsing the web can provide temporary relief from the stress of problem solving, or just stress in general. Browsing is pretty much our default state of being. I was using the excuse of searching for inspiration as an escape from the hard work of thinking. By doing this I broke my concentration and fragmented my thoughts.
Nowadays I like to completely unplug for at least a couple hours with just my sketchbook and my brain before I go looking for inspiration externally. I leave my desk and go find a comfortable spot with no screens and think. When I come to a difficult problem, I keep sketching, putting everything that comes to me down on paper. No filter. Sketch the bad with the good. I especially like to sketch out my bad ideas so I can acknowledge them and move on. Eventually, with some luck, I come to a solution that is not only more robust because I’ve had time to truly think about it, but also more uniquely mine than if I had just been staring at other peoples’ work the whole time.