If you work in a creative role, the expectation and requirement to come up with great and varied ideas can be exhausting and often leaves you feeling dry. Some people find inspiration easier to come by than others, and there is no quick fix for creativity, however there are a few techniques and good habits that can help when brainstorming ideas for a project. Here’s a few I find useful:
Sitting at a desk all day is not only slowly killing your body, it may also be killing your creativity. Get up, have walking meetings, throw a ball around whilst discussing ideas, anything that gets me moving seems to help loosen up my mind and help ideas flow.
For me, going for a walk outside is one of the best ways to remove a mental block. After a 5 minute stroll I return to the office refreshed and clear headed, often with a new seed of an idea that’s ready to be developed further.
Use whatever space you have to ensure ideas are written down, shared and remain visible during the idea generation process. I find collaborative tools like Google Drive are great to collect ideas from remote colleagues, but my favourite method is to scribble things on a board and have the freedom to link ideas together, sketch a little diagram, and pin things up. There is something to be said about the tactile nature of physically scribbling things down.
Another bonus of using a board is that it usual gets the team all standing up and active.
Whilst idea generation is an inherently organic process, it does help to have some goals or guiding points to help formalise your ideas. Write down key objectives, target audiences, themes and related topics. You can sometimes group ideas togethers and expand upon them, knowing that there is a a solid foundation to work from – and at the end, it may be easier to collate your ideas into categories that are easier to present or take to the next stage.
Nothing is new anymore, not really. But that’s ok, the trick is to do something better than that what’s been done before. Having a constant feed of inspiration is key, be it in the form of books, films, museum visits, articles and art showcase sites. Sometimes inspiration comes from the source you least expect, whilst you’re not actively seeking that eureka moment. Read Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist book.
Sometimes a great idea evolves from a not-so-great idea. “That might not work, but if it was tweaked to be THIS…!”. A suggestion may act to push the thought train in a new and unexpected direction, unlocking some great ideas along the way.
Using the “Yes and…” technique you can build upon ideas instead of shutting them down.
Which techniques and positive habits work for you?