When I remembered that today was Wednesday and I needed to blog, I was very worried because I didn’t have any idea what to write about. As a person who has to do creative-ish things every day, it sometimes gets hard to avoid creative blocks. The part of my day that’s spent in an office, especially, is challenging because there is a lack of new stimuli and I feel trapped.
So I’ve come up with a couple of things to keep me going in the creative realm. Many of them make me more awkward, but they help so here we go.
1. RESEARCH. If I am starting a new project, I start with research. Whether it’s visual research (which I often use Pinterest for) or just research into what a client wants or has produced in the past, this part of the process can be really inspiring. It’s a great chance to get fired up by the work of others. You can do this step whether you are actively working on a project or not. The more you read and look, the more you store away in your inspiration bank.
Talking through ideas and/or interviewing clients counts as research too. Again, even if you don’t have a project, this can be fun. Just talk through ideas, what-ifs and what you like/don’t like. You never know when an idea might hit you.
2. GET IT OUT. Write things down while you are researching, while you’re walking down the street or when you can’t sleep. Maybe notes in your phone works for you. Maybe the inspiration flows more freely with a paper and pen. Sketch things out if it works better. Try free writing or bubble mapping. There are 101 ways to get whatever is in your head out, and sometimes one will work better for you than others. Experiment.
The most important thing is to create something. Get in the habit of brainstorming in a physical way that you can see and come back to. If you don’t get it out, you might get stuck in your head and blank.
3. PLAY. Try something more playful while you are thinking through your problems. I am a tactile thinker so things like silly putty and playdoh help me work through my issues. Whether I am mindlessly rolling it in my hands or making little sculptures, play can distract you just enough to let your ideas flow.
In this way, you are being indirectly creative. Sure, you aren’t making anything productive per say, but you are in the process of creating something and it loosens up those ideas. A little bit of a break helps too, and play really takes the pressure off you and your brain for a moment.
4. MOVE. I know this is an old cliche, but moving helps. Change your position or take a walk. If you are trapped in a small office, you can go take a trip to get a drink or visit the restroom. There have been tons of research about how exercise and physical exertion can help with creativity and mood. I’m not much of an exerciser, but sitting somewhere new or taking a brisk walk almost always helps me sort out my thoughts a bit better. It’s not a magical solution but every bit helps.
Here are some of the ways I brainstorm for creative projects when I feel like the well is all dried up. I even tried some of them while brainstorming for this post. What do you do when your brain seems stuck and you have to stay creative?