We all hit mental blocks sometimes. We have trouble coming up with the solution to a problem, or getting started on a new project, or pulling ourselves out of a rut. Or, we have trouble thinking creatively, or boosting our creativity after a long day. You can boost your creativity with a few tried-and-true methods, like changing the scenery around you, tapping in to your imagination, or making a conscious effort to keep your thoughts positive. Whether your livelihood depends on your creativity, or you’ve simply determined that life would be less interesting without it, you can also turn to your smartphone to kickstart your creativity.
In fact, there are plenty of apps for both iOS and Android that can make you more creative. You can use some of them everyday to keep your creativity at the top of its game. Or, you can turn to them when you’re feeling stuck and need a little bit of inspiration. Read on to check out our favorite apps and tap in to your inner artist, designer, photographer, or writer.
Designers and illustrators can always benefit by looking at others’ work, which is a great form of inspiration. Behance is one of the best apps to turn to for such inspiration. You can download Behance for Android or iOS and search and explore millions of projects in fashion, typography, architecture, photography, digital art, and more.
Some people think that mobile games are a distraction. But others recognize them as a great solution for a mental block, since they can simultaneously give you a brief distraction and offer you a new way to think about your project. If you’re the kind of person who can draw inspiration from games, and especially if you’re a writer, Blackbar may be the perfect app for you. Blackbar, available on Android and iOS, is a text game centered around the concept of censorship and may just get your creative juices flowing.
Another great game that can jumpstart your creativity? Blek, which its creators call “a game about imagination.” Blek is one of the few mobile games that really looks like art. Available on Android and iOS, Blek has a simple objective: to create a line that collects all the colored circles while avoiding black holes along its route. Because it’s an open-ended game, it’s a great app to spark your creativity and experiment with different ways of thinking.
A proven way to jumpstart your creativity is to seek out some inspiration in the form of creative prompts. Brainsparker, which is available for iOS and will soon be offered for Android, will help you change up your routine and come up with new ideas and novel solutions to the problems you’ve been mulling over. The app offers random words, quotes, images, actions, and questions, which can help you generate creative ideas.
Curator claims to be the “no. 1 tool for the creative process.” The app, available for iOS, enables you to create visual notes, collect and organize inspiration, refine your visual storytelling skills, create mood boards, and either export them to PDFs or share them right in the app. You can even use Curator to prepare and make presentations or collaborate with others on a visual reference library.
If you need to brainstorm new ideas or organize the ideas you have, Ideament may be a great app for you. It’s available for iOS and Windows and is the perfect solution for creating diagrams, mind maps, concept maps, or flow charts and converting them to a text outline (or vice versa). You can switch between diagrams and outlines, and use the app’s cloud-friendly features to save or share your diagrams.
7. IDEO Method Cards
Designers who want some new ways to create great designs may benefit from IDEO Method Cards, which is an app that helps you to explore new approaches to design projects. This iOS app features 51 cards classified in four suits: Ask, Watch, Learn, and Try. Those categories define the sorts of activities that are involved in using each method, and each approach is illustrated by a real-life example of how the method was applied to a specific project.
8. Monument Valley
If you’re a designer, an artist, or any other kind of visual thinker who’s open to turning to a game for inspiration, Monument Valley is a can’t-miss app. The game, available for Android and iOS, is an award-winning “illusory adventure of impossible architecture and forgiveness.” It’s an elegant and gorgeous game that’s sure to inspire any type of artist.
Creative people of all stripes need great note-taking apps, and Notability is a pretty strong contender. Available for iOS and Mac, the app enables you to combine handwriting, photos, and typing in a single note. Notability features a range of note-taking and sketching tools, which enables you to record all the details of your ideas. You can even add and annotate PDFs and organize all of the information you need for your projects.
Sometimes, all you need to boost your creativity is a great note-taking app to help you play around with ideas. Paper enables you to take notes, draw on photos, and create diagrams, charts, and drawings. The app, which is available for iOS, enables you to record and connect your ideas, and the creators note that the app can function as a “wall of sticky notes for everything that inspires you.”
One of the best ways to overcome writer’s block is to use writing prompts to either find a new idea, or to figure out a new way to approach the project you’re working on. Prompts aims to provide you with “creative and intelligent prompt suggestions” as you write. This iOS app uses a unique algorithm to make suggestions about what you should write next. It also enables you to track your writing habits and make free writing a daily habit.
12. Story Skeleton
We all come up with ideas at random times, but you can be more creative about using those ideas if you have a good way to keep track of them. Story Skeleton enables writers to do just that. This story mapping and organization tool for iOS enables you to easily work on the structure of your story (and even export it to a variety of useful formats for use in tools like Scrivener and Final Draft). This app is the perfect place to start working on your novel, screenplay, or any other writing project.
13. Tayasui Sketches
If you’re a designer or an illustrator who fine-tunes new ideas by doodling and sketching, Tayasui Sketches may be the perfect app for you. The app, available for iOS, Android, and Mac, enables you to “stop thinking about the device” and “enjoy the sensation of drawing on paper.” You can use the app to create everything from simple sketches to beautiful drawings, and because it’s designed to be extremely user-friendly, you can use it to boost your creativity whether you’re a beginner or a pro.
VSCO not only enables you to capture and edit amazing photos, but it also offers great inspiration thanks to its worldwide community. VSCO calls itself “a community for expression,” and offers photographers an easy way not only to create great images, but to connect with other creative people and discover great work that can spark their own creativity.
Plenty of writers find it difficult to work on their novels, screenplays, stories, and articles somewhere other than their computer. But if you’d like to change up your surroundings in search of inspiration, Werdsmith may be a great app to download. The app, available on iOS, turns your iPhone or iPad into a “portable writing studio” so that you can write anytime or anywhere that inspiration strikes.