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I thought I would make use of the current Argos 3for2 offer by purchasing 3 'Classic' sets. I was excited to be building 'free style' rather than just following instructions for the first time in decades. But.....nope, nothing. I just sat there staring at the pile of bricks. When I was a kid and I got a new set I would build it first but would dismantle it within a few days to use the pieces to build something new, but now I seem to have no imagination. Perhaps it is because I am a 'fussier' as an AFOL and I'm not as happy building less than 'perfect' creations. Has anyone else found they no longer really have the imagination for building free style with a limited selection of bricks?
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Where a child might happily stick a red 2x4 down and say it's a dog, an adult likely wants parts to look like how they percieve things.
The other thing is children find it easier to learn by doing, you have to make the mistakes to figure out how to do things well, children spend most of their time doing that, adults don't so it's often harder to just go for it.
take your time and just see what you can do with experimentation, not every build has to be a masterpiece...just one step at a time.
I make some afwul stuff, I make some things that I think are quite cool, but I always have fun.
I agree with previous posters and you OP, we are to fussy as adults and want things to be perfect and having a bit of OCD I am guilty of that myself.
Most of my MOC's start out with me just dabbling with bricks, or taking a couple of items from a build (a fireplace, a sofa) and trying to create a vignette. Then I start making a building with whatever I have handy. If I feel like there is a potential for a build that can last (like a modular style building or my recent dol guldur adaptation) I order parts that I think will improve it, or to make an extra floor.
I've also made a sort of hospital once in all kinds of awfull colours, and then trying to recreate and improve it once I had some white bricks ordered.
On this topic there is also the 'nice parts usage' game that's started up a couple of weeks and I find it helps me to think outside of the box.
Maybe you could try that?
Or like set yourself another challenge? Like, build an animal with these pieces, build a house, build a car?
Building with friends or family can sometimes be more inspiring than building alone. That way if you have trouble coming up with your own ideas you can help them develop theirs, or if you're having trouble developing your ideas you can hand them over to a fresh set of eyes. Also, just having someone else struggling alongside you can make your own struggles feel less frustrating. And since it's easy to be your own worst critic, having somebody else who can provide honest and immediate feedback can be very valuable.
Most of my own best creations have been built with the help of my twin brother.
I think whether it is a free build with a set or building with a large swath of parts, perfectionism and being fearful of 'failing' on the first attempt are the two biggest roadblocks with building. Another roadblock is trying to make it look 'real'. IMO LEGO is its own scale and designs and while there are some rough dimensions to use to keep it minifig scale for example, it does not need to look like the 'real thing' IMO.
When I do build, I tend to build more from the ideas rummaging through my brain for MOCs right now. While not free building from a set, it still is worth it to get that creativity working. In some ways free building from a set may be a bit easier given LEGOs crazy part inventory that can be used for MOCing.
@glosminifigfan brings up being an AFOL, I think that is the reason why we run into those roadblocks many times. Look at layouts that train Lugs put out and they are awesome, or you go to websites where people are building amazing MOCs and it can make you feel a bit demoralized seeing how great those can be. However, most MOC'ers had to start somewhere, and I doubt all of them had their first MOC be amazing. You learn and grow, I think as adults many are fearful of that. Too many times you put your brain on cruise control and things like LEGO snaps you out of that mind set IMO.
Just build something. If that something is not to your liking, try again.
*puts on best attempt of a James Brown voice and sings: "I want to kiss myself, I got soul, and I'm superbad!"
Unless of course your clone from the bizarro alternate universe pops up and tries to kill you. But that is an entirely different story.
When you have a builders block, just go free style, and see which bricks end on up clutching the others you got, without caring for the end result, just enjoy the journey. Limiting yourself to the elements from one set also helps. It requires one to be more ingenious, once you are on to something you can always opt to start using more and other bricks from your collection to elaborate on and fine tune what you have built (if you have the time and energy). Too much choice can have a paralyzing effect, causing you not to make any choice at all, but instead just stare at your mountain of bricks in apathy, which is not 'leg godt'.
I recently started building a modular and I've already made multiple changes to my original idea. I really only had one part I want to keep from the start and I'm trying to build around that. I think I never have an endgoal in mind, so I can never know when I'm finished until one day I think it looks complete. I have different piece combos together in my head or that I've put together and want to include it somewhere, but who knows if/when it will fit for what I am building at that moment.
Plus, having very little time to actually build and many pieces still need sorted, it can be difficult for me to put on my imagination cap.
Growing up with siblings in general can be good training for the kind of teamwork and compromise that comes in handy when building together with somebody else. But I think that it's probably something that anybody can learn if they have a building partner who's willing to learn alongside them. At various LEGO events I've been to, I've encountered people who have never met before, sometimes with very different ages, but who quickly pick up on how to ask for each other's help to find pieces they need, help stabilize a model, or make suggestions on how to decorate a model.
This is definitely an understandable feeling to have. I was recently having a conversation with some friends who were frustrated with their own creative skill being chalked up to "talent" because they felt like it ignored the years of study and practice that helped them develop that skill. But people do think and learn differently. Everybody starts out as a novice, but that doesn't mean there's one path to expertise that will work for everybody.
Me, I'm very good at visual-spatial and numerical reasoning. I can imagine what I want something to look like even if I don't know how to make it look like that. I can calculate things in my head better than a lot of people. But I can't make original music, whether in my head or with an instrument in front of me, nor am I any good at telling how is played just from hearing it. I'm also terrible at any kind of temporal thinking, like estimating how much time something will take. And mechanical thinking is also really difficult for me, even though I've been building LEGO Technic sets for nearly a decade.
Everybody has their own cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and a lot of becoming a great builder is figuring out how to turn those strengths and weaknesses into a creative process that works for you.
I think when I was a kid I would often look at the bricks and think 'what could I make with these?', but these days I start with 'I want to make X, and I will need these bricks'.
I don't struggle when using LDD, but with a limited range of basic bricks I struggle. Perhaps I am spoilt with LDD. It would be good if you could limit the brick selection to just those that you have available in your collection!
I think another issue is that many of the bricks are 2xX, where as I would prefer more 1xX, which are better for building small scale buildings etc.
I love to see creative ideas, and other's approaches to things..not just the super complicated and huge mocs..
I strongly recommend buying three packs of mixels from the same tribe, not looking at any of the instructions and just building something funny. Most custom mixels creations look quite charming! Take a pic or two, tear down and start again... don't even bother refining. It's quite a liberating experience!
We've got three of the Classic bucket type sets and I think they are great for kids, for adults I find they are lacking a bit in the "if only I had this brick in the right colour" problem - they tend to give you many colours and parts, but not actually that much variation. Mixing the sets definitely helps. I found buying a few 1x1 snot bricks and a load more 1x1 round eyes really helped, since I like building animals with the classic sets.