When the idea well runs dry.

Get past a creative block and deliver creative genius.

It happens. It happened the other day. I just couldn’t come up with any ideas. I got frustrated and angry with the world. I’m sure it happens to all of us. Those days when the ideas just wont come. Sometimes you can just tell when you are getting briefed. You just know that this might be a hard one. Don’t know why. The brief, the client, the weather, but some days, the ideas just wont flow. Unfortunately, a deadline is a deadline and you are expected to deliver, even Draper got that.

So how do you get past a creative block and deliver creative genius? Here are some thoughts on what stops the ideas flowing and how to deliver creative thinking when you hit a wall.

1 Understand there is a problem

First thing to do is to try and understand why the ideas are not coming. Are you distracted? Other things on the mind? Stuck on an idea? Maybe you just don’t actually get the brief or what the problem you are trying to solve actually is. Do you need to better understand the product , service, customer or audience. Acknowledging any of the above will at least send you on a different path.

2 Revisit the brief

As mentioned above, the brief is a great place to start. Creativity in an agency is just a form of problem solving and I often find that a lack of clarity around understanding the problem can form a barrier to creative thinking. Creatives all too often ‘blame the brief’ for their lack of ideas. Flaming account service or the client doesn’t help anyone and it definitely won’t get the creative juices flowing. (Anger isn’t the best emotion for creativity either!) Try getting a quick session with account service, producers or even the client to gain a deeper understanding of the challenge. Ask lots of questions, dig deeper and try and get inside the challenge. Following this try re-writing the brief in your own words as a way to gain a clearer understanding and bring you closer to a solution.

3 Build a closer relationship

I find the best ideas come the closer I get to the product or service. It’s probably why pitching creative for a new piece of business can be difficult. You just don’t have a deep or emotional connection with problem. Try getting closer to what you are trying to come up with ideas for. If it’s a car, go for a drive. Ideas to get more people to donate blood, go donate — you get the idea. If it’s not physically possible to create the experience, try talking to someone who has. There will be something, a quirk or an insight that can form the start of a brilliant idea. Maybe Mel Gibson was on to something in ‘What Women Want’

4 Do a brainstorm.

Change the dynamic. An idea can come from anyone so try running a quick brainstorm with your creative team. Or as an alternative, try bring people outside the creative team into a quick ideas session. You never know what a new set of eyes will see. Creatives can sometimes limit their thinking through their years of what they believe can and can’t be done. Interestingly the most random, creative and inspiring ideas can come from those that are not as limited in their thinking and aren’t afraid to throw up a ‘stupid; thought. At our agency, Igloo, some of the most vocal contributors to our brainstorms are not always those in the creative team.

5 Change your enviroment

Sometimes, staring at a screen is just not the best environment for creative thinking. As creatives, we never really switch off and I think most of my ideas come when I am outside the office. Even the 5 minute walk from the station seems to be a pretty prolific creative time. Get outside and importantly get away from distractions. I often find that going for a run or a swim seems to clear the mind and the ideas start flowing. I once read that getting close to water was a great place to get creative.

It all sounds pretty obvious but even after years of being a creative, I still need to acknowledge I am stuck and need to do something to change the outcome.

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