If you work in the creative industry – or in any industry, it’s fairly standard that you are expected to come up with innovative solutions to briefs-problems as part of your day job. And sometimes that can just seem beyond you – you are fresh out of freshness.
So.. What to do then?
When I feel that I don’t have a single creative idea in my head and probably never will again, and that work just isn’t happening for me today, I try the techniques I’ve listed below.
Most days one of these techniques, or three or five, will ease me back into creative flow.
If they don’t, I take the nuclear option.
All thanks to Harvard Business Review – truly a lifesaver, my hero, and my modern superman.
According to it, here’s how you do it.
- Frame the problem, then take heed:
When you’re looking to innovate, take advantage of an opportunity, or solve a problem… one of your first steps should be to define precisely or “frame” that opportunity or problem. Your frame is how you narrow and pinpoint what you choose to solve. Better framing leads to better solutions.
Think of it like a picture frame, it has in the center what you want to feature.
One way to determine the right frame is to keep shifting perspectives. Take a look at the situation using different frame types, and test until you’ve found the right focus area.
And from there, take heed.
- Stay curious and follow them
Curiosity killed the cat? Not exactly. Evidence continues to emerge about the benefits of being an inquisitive, interested person. Not only does staying wide-eyed about the world make life more fun, it also has a number of surprising benefits.
As children, we’re naturally inquisitive and happily explore the world but somewhere along the way, many of us neglect our fascination and sense of wonder. We begin to accept things for how they are and try to just go with the plan – hesitant to step out of line or rock the boat.
But many of the best innovations and outcomes are the result of curiosity. Being curious is natural, and following through with your curiosity can reward you with some exciting discoveries and fascinating insights, not to mention that there’s a host of additional benefits that curiosity is associated with.
- Do things that do not interest you
You’re probably thinking ‘’are you serious?’’. Yes, I am. It could feel like a burden doing the things that do not interest us. But by doing this, we can gain valuable insights about the things that we don’t really pay attention to. Oftentimes, we think things are boring just because they lie outside the box we are currently in.
So step outside the box and learn about other fields.
- Welcome uncomfortable conversations
According to Harvard Business Review, another creative stimulus is to frequently engage in conversations with people from whom you might normally recoil.
You may talk with someone who is an opponent of the team you’re in – it is not for the purpose of changing teams or showing who’s better but it is for the purpose of gaining valuable perspectives from other fields that you don’t normally play in.
- Bring to a halt and work when it hits
One of the infamous universal rules is to not force things out – if it happens, it will.
Let’s take writing an article as an example. If you were to force yourself to write despite being under the influence of “mental block’’, the article would seem like it was rushed or not quite good enough as you normally write. But if you were to set it aside for a while and get back on it once you feel that kick of inspiration and something is coalescing inside of you. When you are inspired, it is better to transcribe and organize your thought flow and would result in a better writing process.