Whether you’re at university, or you’re a working professional, I think it’s safe to say everyone has been at that stage when they hit a creative brick wall and there’s no way of getting around it. To help, in this post I’ve covered some of the best ways to defeat your creative block, in turn offering you tops on how to be more creative.
I’ve been there many times myself, you need the ideas to come so you can move on in your project, but not for all the caffeine in the world will your brain dish out those elusive ideas. Whether you’re a a writer, art director, designer or a marketer trying to come up with something new and creative, I hope these tips on how to be more creative will be of some use to you – some of which I have gathered from industry professionals, who have already found the knacks that work for them.
1. Get away
The first and most obvious thing to do is get away from your desk. In fact, get away from the office! Go take a walk, but as you do don’t actively think about work. Look at your surroundings and the people around you, what are they doing? What’s happening? Take it all in and see what ideas come your way. This is something Ben Lynch, from Razorfish, also agreed with in a recent interview I did with him.
2. Grab a coffee
It’s amazing sometimes just what a difference a change of scenery can make. Take your work outside the office. Go to your local coffee house, grab a hot drink and a piece of cake and try again there. The new decor, smells, people and interactions will spark off new thought processes in your brain, taking your ideas down different routes than they were before.
3. Do some exercise
If you already tried point 1, no this doesn’t count. Another tip on how to be more creative it to go for a run and have a proper workout. Go to the gym if you like, but ideally try going for a run outside. It’s proven that exercise releases a chemical in our brains called endorphins, which are basically ‘feel-good- hormones. This is why people say exercise is addictive and they feel ‘pumped’ after a workout; it’s not the exercise that makes us feel this way, but the endorphins. This kicks your brain into gear and releases a new lease of life (and ideas) for your brain.
The reason why I said exercise outside rather than indoors, is because while all this is happening, your mind is also taking in everything that’s happening around it – the same as in point 1 really.
4. Take a shower
Not only because you’re hot and sweaty from trying out point 3, but also because some of your best ideas can come to you in the shower – I have experience this first hand. I’m not really sure why ideas make an appearance in the shower, but I find doing so nearly always works for me when I’m after new ideas. Speaking to some of my friends about this odd phenomenon, they have also agreed with me and said the same thing too.
5. Carry a notebook
Not so much a tip to help you on how to be more creative, but certainly a tip to enhance your creativity – carry a notebook! Not a huge thing, just something you can keep in your pocket or your bag. I always have one one me ready for when new blog ideas, or ideas for work randomly come to me. The great thing about inspiration is that it can appear at any time, unexpectedly. So you need to make sure you’re always prepared for that moment and ready to jot down your ideas as they come to you.
Alternatively, you can save your ideas as they come to you on your phone. Just ensure you have some way of saving your ideas.
6. Talk to your peers
Whether it’s someone in a different department, or someone you know at another company, don’t be afraid to ask for help and now again. Sometimes all you need is a fresh pair of eyes and a different perspective. If you work on your own a lot of the time, working in a pair or a group on the odd occasion can be just what you needed. None of us perfect, so don’t feel you’re not any good by asking for help. Your peers are doing the same thing as you and will find themselves in that same position too – they scratch your back, you scratch their’s. It’s a good way to build relationships if nothing else. Which brings me onto my next point.
7. Network network network
Speaking to peers you know, or know of, is all well and good, but sometimes you need to expand your reach; go to networking events and conferences.
Unlike the other points listed above, this unfortunately isn’t something you can do on the spot, it requires some planning and forward thinking, as specialist conferences don’t happen everyday. However if you’ve got some flexibility with time, or you’re fortunate enough that your creative brick wall coincides with a conference, then go!
Attend the conference talks if there are any at the venue, fully immerse yourself and get networking! Put yourself out of your comfort zone and see what happens and who you meet. Don’t just do this when you’re stuck for ideas though, do this all the time. The basis of your ideas is about learning. It doesn’t matter how far into your career you are, there is always something new to learn.
8. Catch some zzz’s
A final tip to try is to sleep on it. There’s a reason this is now a popular saying, or a response people come out with (“I’ll sleep on it”) and that’s because it does work. Give your brain some well deserved rest and come back to the problem the next day, or a few hours later. Some rest and a fresh perspective can sometimes be all you need.