The creative and ideation block: 5 simple ways to wiggle right out
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It’s common to hit a roadblock and feel like there’s nothing creative and new that you’re able to think of
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The creative and ideation block: 5 simple ways to wiggle right out

It’s common to hit a roadblock and feel like there’s nothing creative and new that you’re able to think of
  • With uncertainty still looming around, it is often to get caught in the vicious cycle of self-doubt.
  • Ankita Kulkarni, Head of Account Planning, SoCheers shares a few ways in which you can come out of your creative block and stop procrastinating.
The supposed new normal that we are still grappling with has undoubtedly brought in a lot of changes in our everyday life. While our personal lives have surely benefited from the extra time we got to spend with family and loved ones, the professional lives have undergone a 360 change. The work-from-home did seem quite like a boon in the beginning but little did I know at the end of 10 months, I’d be eagerly waiting to go to the office and work from there.

I miss meeting people at work and interacting with them in comparison to video conferencing or on phone calls all day. What I think I miss the most is that there isn’t any beyond-the-work-talk happening right now. Offices brim with work sure, but they’re also home to conversations about what one’s weekend plans are or what another one is planning to cook for dinner while how another one just got the nicest deal online for her birthday dress. These seemingly unimportant interactions did help me bond and connect with my colleagues beyond work. They made understanding them and their thought processes easier and so working with them was something I looked forward to. It’s not the most conducive environment for ideation with talking to screens all day, more so when everyone’s feeling like they’re living the same day everyday - but the ecosystem still demands that. It’s common in such a case to hit a roadblock and feel like there’s nothing creative and new that you’re able to think of! But what’s important is to not give-in and instead break out of the block and get the mind recharged so that those creative juices start flowing again.

Just going to leave you with a couple of things that really help me get on track every time I face a creative block:

1. Change surroundings, almost immediately

What I usually do is, plan a day or 2 where I’m working out of a friend’s house so that my immediate environment is new. I’d rather plan a short trip to a calm place for a couple of days but my family is not very comfortable with me travelling just about yet, so we discussed and sort of came to this middleground. A changed atmosphere automatically opens up the mind and helps one think better. Even just moving out of home and working out of a cafe for the remaining half of the day helps me feel better and as a result ideate better.

2. Consciously, leave the task at hand & take up something else
I’m sure you’ve experienced this too - when you’re trying super hard to remember something and you’re sure you know it but just not able to recollect it at that time. You let go of it and then randomly while doing something else, the thing you were trying to remember effortlessly flows into your head out of nowhere. The mind does work in miraculous ways! Drawing a parallel from this, if I try too hard to think and come up with ideas, seldom have I got the desired result. But reading the brief a couple of times, mulling over it for an hour and then leaving it while doing something else helps me think and process my thoughts in the background subconsciously. When I then turn my attention to the brief at hand again, there are some quality thoughts and ideas that I’m able to bring to the table.

3. Get more perspectives or think using their heads

A lot of times what happens is, on revisiting the same brief a couple of times, I reach a standpoint where there’s nothing more that I can think of. It’s almost as if I’ve thought of everything covering multiple aspects but nothing is seeming great or meaty enough to take back to the client.

What’s missing in this case is new perspectives and thought starters. I usually call 5-7 of my friends and speak to them about the brief and ask them what they think of it and to talk to me about it for less than a minute. These are usually folks from office but sometimes depending on the brief, even friends who are usually the ones changing channels every time an ad shows up!

I record these conversations and on revisiting them, on most occasions I’ve realised there are more ways to look at the brief than before - eases the ideation process for me a lot.

4. Start thinking, but for other things

If you’ve hit a roadblock and can’t think of any more creative things in relation to the brief at hand even after multiple attempts, a fun thing to do is look around and start crafting lines or communication routes for the things you see. For example, come up with something for your laptop, your notebook or your favourite snack like a vada pav. The coffee mug or a comb - absolutely anything that is in you can think of or see.

You can almost behave like Chandler from the FRIENDS episode where he tries and crafts taglines for a few products and goes, Cheese - It’s milk that you chew or Pants - Like shorts, but longer. This helps me open up my headspace, lightens the work burden a bit and allows thoughts to flow freely, while having fun because you’re thinking about something so mundane but from a new viewpoint. Usually, when I move back to thinking about the original brief, it doesn’t seem that daunting a task; and I’m able to navigate through ideas better.

5. Stop thinking, get reading

There’s more material than one can consume on any topic today. Thanks to the internet, it’s accessible at a click. It’s always great to draw inspiration from what stalwarts in the industry have to say. So I usually look at old ads of similar products, try and analyse the insights they’ve used to crack that piece - it helps me think from a broader lens than I already was. I also turn to books that aggregate the best ads and stories behind how they were crafted for some inspiration. Hey Whipple, Squeeze This and The Copy Book are personal favourites!

Hoping these quick tips help you like they’ve helped me in my creative thinking journey. If there are any other things that you do when faced with a creative block, let me know, I’d love to try them too. Wishing you some great campaigns for the hopeful 2021 while you proudly don the thinking hat!