I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had days of pure creative block. You know. Just staring at your screen. Trying to balance a pen on your nose. Practicing your name in cursive on a scrap piece of paper. Doing anything but developing great, mind-blowing ideas that will wow your boss and clients.
Been there. Done that. And it’s the worst, most wasteful time ever.
Doctors haven’t found a cure to this horrible work time woe, but I have found a few tricks to help get ideas flowing and creative brilliantness stirring. Now these aren’t proven remedies, but they are exercises that do often help me. (Read on/use at your own risk.)
1. Play opposites.
Sometimes I like to think of what a company/product/service is not or would never be. Why? Because playing opposites allows you to put things together that might not ever co-exist and see what happens. (Sometimes unexpected genius is born.)
2. Be ridiculous.
Sometimes it’s easy to get creatively frustrated when you’re thinking too far ahead. How would that work? How much would that cost? Will the weather be a problem? Although these are all important things to eventually think about, in the beginning of the creative process getting bogged down in the details can be nothing but roadblocks and downers.
So, take off the handcuffs and don’t let the worries, logistics and budget get in the way. You think launching a rocket ship into space would be the best way to introduce this product? Yes, let’s roll with it! And then what happens? Oh, we definitely need some singing cats to help get the message across? You got it! What else do the cats do? (Laser Cats.)
Sure, 99% of these ideas will never come to life, but I find that thinking ridiculous is the best way to play with the impossible and turn it into something possible. (After all, you’ll find it’s easier to tone down than tone up.) And if you’re brainstorming in a group, a crazy, over-the-top idea you have could end up inspiring someone else’s great, winning idea.
3. Use an outside source.
When it comes to creative thinking, I am never against phoning a friend. Sometimes when you’re too involved in the project you become numb to the most basic or obvious ideas. It’s nice to call upon a fresh perspective and/or someone who isn’t actually trying to come up with a brilliant idea. I’ve been known to call or text my friends/family to get an honest opinion or thought on a subject. “Hey Ma, what’s your biggest pet peeve about Christmas shopping for Dad?” “Hey Brett, when you spent that summer backpacking Europe, what could you have never traveled without?”
I always love hearing these responses because they are so honest and often shine a light on a perspective I have previously overlooked. It’s like an extended version of performing a Rorschach test on someone and using it to your advantage.
4. Do an image search.
As a very visual person, I love Google Imaging different words associated with my project and seeing what comes up. Although this can often be a bit like Russian roulette, I usually end up finding some cool/random/thought-provoking image that stirs up a brilliant idea and inspires me to take a radically unexpected direction. Other times, I just end up seeing a lot of disturbing pictures that I wish were blocked from my memory.
5. When in doubt, use a baby or puppy.
Got any of your own tricks? Do share! Let’s spread some creative goodness.
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