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Creativity Blocks? Bash Through in 15 Steps

Creativity in Progress

Has Your Creativity Hit a Wall?

No matter what you create, art, novels, code, business ideas, we all experience creativity blocks. This post lists a few ways to overcome this distressing dilemma, especially when a deadline is looming!

Bash Through Creativity Blocks

1) Stop Worrying. The more you worry the more you will block your creative flow. Instead adopt a belief that you will come up with something genius, because you know what? You will!

2) Recall Past Successes. Think of some of your best creations. How did they come about? What about those experiences is repeatable? Take some quiet, non-internet time to reflect on this. Sometimes a walk around the block is all it takes.

3) Define the Problem/Assignment. What is it that you need to create? Make sure that you have a good understanding of the problem you are trying to solve.  Then focus on that.

4) Chunk It. Try breaking it down into parts. Tackle the easiest parts first to get some momentum. Then proceed to harder parts.

5) Turn Off Your Censor. Try a brainstorming session for ideas. Make your goal to come up with 50 ideas that will go into the trash. Watch how having this new mindset changes how your creativity flows. Let the ridiculous ideas flow. You can make them more conservative later if you need to.  For an example, see designer David Airey’s display of brainstorming a new logo.

6) Mash Up. If none of your ideas so far has you feeling jazzed, consider smashing one with another idea. How can you combine two different things to come up with something that is unique and exciting?

7) Think From a New Perspective. Can you possibly redefine the problem or assignment? What happens when you narrow or broaden the focus? How might a child approach it? What if you changed the tools you use?

8) Get Ideas from Nature. If you can either take a walk in nature (best), find some nature pictures (plants, animals), or use your imagination with eyes closed. What do you see happening in nature that could point you in a new direction?

9) Web Search. Do this not to copy ideas, but rather to find inspiration and a springboard from which to leap to a new level of thinking about your creation.

10) Look Through Your Idea File. Most of us have this pile or file somewhere of ideas we want to act on. If you don’t have one, start one! But if you do have one take a look through it. This is the time you’ve been waiting for to browse your collection.

11) Swallow Your Pride. Ask for help. No man is an island. And your creation is still yours even if you get some help. You can ask anyone, qualified or not. Sometimes a layperson, not in your field, is exactly who you should ask. They may give you a nugget that turns on the “Aha!” light for you. Don’t be afraid to collaborate. When it comes to creativity, 1+1=3 or more!

12) Get Away. If a deadline is not looming, try to get away. Take a drive, take a walk, Play Hooky, go see a movie, whatever. Just get your mind off your assignment for a while.

13) Get Some Rest. If you are completely hitting a wall and feeling really tired, take a nap if you have time. If you don’t have time, consider a Meditation Nap which can rejuvenate you in 5-20 minutes.

14) DeClutter Your Mind. You may be blocked because you have something on your mind. Ask yourself whether it is something that can wait or whether it is 100% necessary to do now. If it doesn’t need to be done now, then write it down, set a reminder to deal with it later, and then focus on your task with a less anxious mind.

15) Just Do It. In the end, you may be simply suffering from procrastination. If that’s the case, then you just need to get started. Turn off ALL distractions. Use the procrastination trick of working for 20-30 minutes and then allowing yourself a 5 minute procrastination break. Use a timer to stay on track.

Good luck!

Please Share!

Please share how you overcome creativity blocks! All comments big and small are very welcomed!


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8 Responses to Creativity Blocks? Bash Through in 15 Steps

  1. David Airey :: Creative Design :: June 19, 2007 at 3:50 am #

    Thanks very much for linking through to my logo design article.

    Much appreciated!

  2. Abel June 19, 2007 at 8:09 am #

    I always find that by NOT thinking about the problem at hand, the light bulb will appear. For me, especially physical activities like mopping the floor (Geez, what do you expect from a stay at home dad).

    Tip #15 is especially good when I need to write something. Agent Sully, you’re right, when you have writer’s block, just pick up the damn pen and write something or anything.

  3. HMG June 19, 2007 at 4:08 pm #

    I’m definitely a fan of #6 and #2. I constantly think of how things were done in the past and how they can combined or tweaked to be applied to new problems.

    I tend to find it pretty interesting that new creations or ideas are sometimes just an improved way of achieving something that happened in the past.

  4. Heather June 20, 2007 at 12:51 pm #

    I love creativity exercises when I’m stuck; I find they really get me inspired. Even though Michael Michalko’s “Thinkertoys,” for example, was aimed at businesspeople, just reading it gave me ideas–let alone using the techniques.

    I think #5 on your list is one of the most important things to consider when coming up with ideas. You can’t properly allow yourself to be fully creative if you’re blasting away at your ideas before they’re even fully-formed. It doesn’t give them time to flower, evolve, or cross-pollinate.

  5. agentsully June 24, 2007 at 4:17 pm #

    David – my pleasure. your blog rocks!

    Thank you Abel! I can relate!

    HMG – yes, isn’t that interesting! something to think about.

    Thanks Heather for sharing. Glad you found them helpful.

  6. Elias Borisov December 12, 2008 at 7:08 pm #

    simply DO GTD as David suggests! Elias Borisov


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