Why is it that ideas can flow so freely sometimes and then be as elusive as a leaf floating down a stream? I’ve wondered that a lot when I was under a deadline, either at school or more recently for my livelihood.
Over the years I have used a few tricks to get me unstuck when I absolutely had to be creative at that moment with no option of waiting. The goal is to get the mind off the track it is on…that’s why you feel stuck. Your mind is closed in on one solution, one path….as if it’s a horse wearing blinders.
The first order of business is to relax and know that the good ideas are just waiting to come out. Remind yourself that you are a creative genius. Your mind is a miracle and it’s actually at your command. Belief is important, just as it is with any successful endeavor. It’s also time for a state change, meaning a physical change of state. Go walk around the block. Execute some jumping jacks. I like to play a couple good dancing tunes and have some fun with it. Standing, stretching and walking around the room may be enough.
You should be in a more positive mental frame of mind now. You know you can come up with some ideas and you are even looking forward to the process. You might do a quick review of your project, not a lengthy review. Flip though the plans, proposals, pictures, ad copy, whatever.
Do a small word association game: write down one word having to do with your project. For example, perhaps I need to create a landscape piece for a client. I’ll write the word landscape at the top of the paper, then quickly write down words that come to my mind. I’ll have a list of words about color or actual places or kinds of foliage or weather, etc. You see, even though my project is visual, I use word association to get ideas. Try this with several aspects of you project/problem. Does your project have a name? Use that name for a word association exercise.
If I still need more input, I’ll ask myself some questions. Who is this for? What is the goal? What if I changed the whole thing? What would it look like? What really matters? I’ll even ask myself questions like: What if I don’t get this done? At least I’ll find out how important it is!
OK, so I need a bit more help. Here’s where I’ll lean back in my chair, close my eyes and take a few minutes to visualize. What am I visualizing? I’m visualizing delivering the project. Why? Perhaps I will see into the future as to what the final product looks like! Remember, this is a game. Have fun and you might come up with something really insightful.
I know there’s lots of good ideas flowing, but just in case you need some more help. I can only remember having to do something like this once. A good idea usually comes in the first or second exercise. You want at least 6 small (maybe 3×3) pieces of paper. Take your lists you just wrote and tear them into pieces so you can still read them. Better yet, you can create some more words and/or pictures. Use shapes or colors to represent parts of your project. Play mix-n-match with these papers. Shuffle them. Drop them on the floor and see where they end up. You could even cut out relevant magazine pictures and do this activity. You’ll already have some great ideas, so you probably won’t have to go this far!
Relaxing is very important. Stress tightens everything including your creativity. Relaxation helps those creative juices to flow. Get comfortable and enjoy the ride.