Stuck in a rut? Need to come up with new ideas, but can’t? Maybe you simply need a break? Perhaps you need to introduce your mind to new things?
Whatever the cause of your rut, here are nine things you can do to get your creative juices flowing…
- Take a break
- Do something different
- Sleep on it
- Go for a walk (take a notebook)
- Read a random article on Wikipedia
- Tell a friend all about it
- Play the Creativity Challenge game
- Random word process
- Get a coffee and listen to Bach
Take a break
Sometimes I find I get more done in the 20 minutes following a break, than I achieved in the previous hour while hard at work.
Maybe your next creative block can be solved simply by taking a break?
Do something different
More serious creative blocks can be broken by introducing new things to your environment.
Do you always come home the same way? Then find a different route home. Do you always have the same thing for lunch? Try something different. And by different, I mean something you’ve never had before.
Introducing something new to your life not only boosts your creativity, it adds a little spice too.
Sleep on it
Your subconscious can be a powerful ally when it comes to creative breakthroughs. It’s not uncommon to go to bed completely flummoxed by a problem, only to wake up with the solution.
If you’ve been struggling with a new idea (or even the solution to a problem), put it aside and tell yourself you’ll have the solution by tomorrow.
You may wake up with the answer.
Go for a walk (take a notebook)
Take yourself right out of your workplace, and head outside for a nice long work. Assuming you’re healthy enough, plan to be away for at least 45 minutes.
Walk at your own pace, and have no particular agenda in mind. Let your mind wander where it will.
Oh yes, and take a notebook. It’s amazing how often an idea will pop into my mind while I’m out and about. And when it does, I immediately jot it down in a notebook, because I’ll have forgotten all about it by the time I get back to the office.
It’s useful to walk down streets you’ve never seen before, and to really explore your neighborhood. Naturally, you should stick to places (and times of day) where you feel safe.
Read a random article in Wikipedia
Are you stuck for ideas? Are you ready for a challenge? Then head over to Wikipedia and click the random article link.
No matter what the article it comes up with is about, set yourself the challenge of applying what you learn to your current problem. It doesn’t matter how silly the resulting ideas are. What matters is that you’re forcing your brain to think laterally.
Give yourself at least 15 minutes at this challenge, and then marvel at just how creative you are.
Even if you don’t come up with anything usable, your subconscious may well stumble onto something later in the day. The point is, you’re exercising your mind. You’re teaching it to step outside of it’s normal boundaries.
Tell a friend all about it
Stuck on something? Looking for an idea out of left-field, but find your brain is unwilling to help? Then maybe the answer lies in somebody else’s head.
But please take note. There are some people who, when you tell them you’re looking for ideas and can’t seem to come up with anything, will start empathizing with you. You’re not looking for emotional support here! You’re looking to tap into the creative power of their mind (two heads being better than one).
If the person you’re talking to is empathizing, rather than helping, let them know you admire their abilities in this area, and would appreciate their help to find a solution.
Then shut up (something I find difficult), and let them talk. Give only positive feedback. If you don’t like an idea, tell them you’re really interested in it. And ask them to elaborate on it. The more you hate the idea, the more important it is that you do this.
This technique is especially useful, because it forces you to open your mind. Remember, you’re the one who is stuck for ideas here! That means you should regard yourself as unfit to judge an idea (yes, I know…easier said than done because you and I are the only people who have good ideas).
But if you do master the art of accepting any idea as valid, and show interest even in ideas you think are silly, it lets your friend know it’s safe to get really creative.
The other possibility is that your friend’s idea only seems ‘silly’ because you don’t fully understand it. That’s why paying special attention to ‘bad’ ideas is such a good idea! You might uncover pure gold if you ask your friend to elaborate.
I can almost guarantee that in those situations where you simply can’t come up with an idea, the answer will lie in an area that you personally don’t like on first hearing about it.
Instead of shutting down this avenue of exploration, give your friend permission to explore it fully and see what happens.
Play the Creativity Challenge game
The Creativity Challenge website offers hundreds of different challenges designed to expand your creative ability.
Random word process
Are you stuck for an idea? Do you have a dictionary? Then you have a potential solution.
Close your eyes, open the dictionary, and place your finger on a word at random.
Give yourself 15 minutes, and find different ways to apply the word to the situation. Don’t judge any idea or solution you come up with. Simply let your mind go free, and explore.
Get a coffee and listen to Bach
Maybe you do simply need a break, but aren’t willing to admit it.
In that case, make yourself a cup of coffee and listen to Bach. Or Mozart.
Music by either of these composers is thought to help improve creativity. And even if they don’t, you give your mind a welcome break and feed it some inspiring music.
If you don’t normally listen to classical music, then you should do this (introducing new things improves creativity). If you can’t stand classical music, then you should definitely do this.
Remember, the key to creativity is introducing your mind to new things.