We all experience a drought of ideas once in awhile, even those of us who consider ourselves pretty creative. For myself, I used to think something drastic or out of the ordinary had to happen for me to get back on track. Lately I have realized that seemingly small things in everyday life can help give me a jump start. Here are some of the simple ideas which have worked for me.
1. Take a different route.
This is one of my favorites. Sometimes just altering the way you get to a frequently visited destination can seem to rearrange things in your brain. If you work in an office, try it on your way to or from work. If not, switch up your route to the gym or the grocery store and see what happens. We do so many things on autopilot every day—it can pay to shake up the routine.
2. Read an interesting book or watch a movie in a different genre than you are used to.
This can get you thinking, feeling and talking about long-buried or rarely-broached topics and questions. Who knows what might come up?
As someone who has kept a journal on and off since I was 8 years old, I can definitely attest to the power of this one. You can use this to do a stream of consciousness thing or a more structured exercise like a Q and A with yourself. Marketer Ali Brown mentioned on a recent teleseminar that when she’s looking for answers she simply writes down her question in a notebook with an “A” after it. Often she will come back to that space and have an answer to fill in. Try this method. Bottom line, give yourself permission to dream, vent or even just doodle in your journal. It’s cheaper than therapy!
4. Nap Time.
Some of us never take naps in the middle of the day because we don’t think we could ever get that tired that early. Some people just adamantly consider themselves non-nappers. But all of us have felt drained at some point well before bedtime. Give it a shot—lay down and let yourself doze off. Whether it’s for an hour or two or a quick 20 minutes, sometimes giving our brain a rest can do wonders for renewing our innovative spirit.
5. Rearrange the furniture.
This can feel so good once you’ve done it. Whether you decide to go feng-shui with your home office or just move the sofa to the other side of the room, deliberately shuffling the patterns of your brain can give a boost to your creativity.
6. Engage people you usually ignore in conversation.
It could be the girl who always looks down that works in the local drugstore or the quiet doorman in your building. You’ll be surprised at where the conversation goes, or at the very least, feel proud of yourself for facing and engaging that person you usually try to avoid.
7. Chunk it.
In Harry Alder’s book Boost Your Creative Intelligence, he explains this as “taking a problem to a higher or lower level.” For example, Alder uses a word like “dog.” Logically chunking up would go to “pet” then “mammal,” “animal,” “living thing” and so on. Chunking down would go to a part of a dog like “tail” or a breed like “dachshund.” An activity like this can sharpen your focus as well as alleviate overwhelm if that is what has you stuck.
8. Dust off that dictionary.
While I often jump on m-w.com to look up a word in a pinch, there is something to be said for cracking open the old-school version. Pick out a random word and then try formulating ideas, sentences or scenarios around it. While giving yourself the freedom to let your mind wander often works well, purposely being restrictive with your thoughts in this way can also enhance the creative process.
These tips usually help me a lot better than mindlessly web surfing or channel flipping. For me, when I start doing those things out of frustration or because I’m experiencing a writer’s block, I know I am only temporarily escaping the “stuckness” without really alleviating it.
Try some of these and see how they work for you. Whatever you do, don’t just stare into a blank Word document waiting for inspiration to strike! At the very least, get up and get the blood flowing.
Happy creating. 🙂