Writer's block. Designer's jam. Creative clog. However you call it, the inability to inspire yourself to create is as frustrating as it is costly. Because if your day job is to pull original, engaging and beautiful rabbits out of hats on demand, then forgetting where you left your wand is fatal.
With that in mind, here's a summary of easy and fun ways to keep that light bulb above your head nice and bright and full of ideas in time for deadline day.
Have a technique
Probably the best place to start, and the one most people in creative industries will tell you about: A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young is an invaluable method for, as the title suggests, producing ideas. Billed as a step-by-step technique for sparking breakthrough creativity in advertising (or any field), it's largely considered an easy-to-read, easy-to-remember, highly effective and much loved guide. In fact, this book is not just for those moments when you’re stuck for an idea, it's useful enough to pretty much prevent you from creative inertia anytime.
Procrastination comes in two ways: The kind where you mindlessly try and find the bottom of your Facebook feed, and the kind where you thrill your brain with stimulation, albeit, stimulation that's not directly linked with your professional objective at hand. It's the latter that can help untangle your creative confusion.
Show your brain something beautiful, a kaleidoscope of original and unique executions of ideas. Anything that’s creative. A fantastic way to productively spend your free time is to explore online photo galleries such as the Lumas collection, and enjoy the expertly shot and stunning artworks they have on offer. Their global roster of artists craft pieces from a number of disciplines, genres and styles. From black and white photography to abstract illustrations and all manner of out of the box concepts. The various photos are pure inspiration-fuel to get your brain excited and raring to think.
If visual media is more your kind of thing, then our Video Inspiration series has got you covered.
Try a new challenge
Staring at a problem for too long is counter-productive. In order for the brain to come up with solutions, it needs to feel challenged. If you find yourself going round in circles looking at the same brief or request from a client, then your brain is on standby. Do it a favor and put the brief away for a short moment, then reach for the nearest newspaper or online news site and start doing a crossword. Crosswords are fun, quick and highly stimulating intellectual challenges. More often that not, when you’re thinking of a solution for 9 down: type of urban vermin (8), your brain will spring into action. Somewhere, in the deepest, farthest recesses of your gray matter, your brain should automatically grab an answer or idea for a previous problem you posed it.
It's all because your brain works on auto-pilot, but you don't know it. You need to wake it up (and that's where the crossword steps in) in order for it to provide you with the solutions it has already found subconsciously. The The Guardian Quick Crosswords are small but challenging enough to do the job.
Talk about it
A problem shared is a problem halved. The old adage is certainly true when it comes to overcoming creative malaise. Relaying your dilemma to friends, family, or a colleague from another department can pay dividends almost instantly.
It's no fun for you nor your brain to deal with tasks in isolation. Your inner voice becomes tired and struggles to find anything new to say. What's needed is a change in situation, and talking to somebody is the perfect remedy. This is why: As you explain your predicament to someone in a conversation, you and your brain find new ways of looking at it, because you are no longer approaching the issue from a business perspective, you’re now engaging it on a personal and human level. Doing this helps unlock new solutions.
What's more, the person you're talking to can throw up a surprise or two as well. Just because they are not a designer, copywriter, or developer, that doesn't mean they don't have the skill-set or expertise to help you find a solution. What they can offer you is a fresh perspective, a unique take, or an angle you haven't thought of before.
Sleep on it
If none of the other sections on this list are working, then chances are you've overdone it. Those heavy eyes are telltale signs. So what's your next step? Hit the hay! Go count some sheep and give your brain some downtime. Let it recharge and give your body a rest. The best part about getting some shuteye is that your brain will continue to work subconsciously while you snooze. When you wake up, it will probably bombard you with ideas, solutions and thoughts while you’re concentrating on brushing your teeth or having a morning shower.
Hopefully this post helps keep you inspired and full of ideas. If it works, then it can be a real time-saver and a money maker, as you'll be able to work faster and better.