Have you ever struggled with coming up with new ideas?
Maybe you think you are not naturally gifted with a creative bone in your body?
Even if you are creative there have probably been times when you got ‘writer's block’ and failed to get in the creative zone?
The good news is that research has shown that creativity is not necessarily something we are born with, it can be a learned trait. And like every skill, it can be trained and perfected over time with practice and persistence.
The most interesting thing is that many dismiss themselves as not very creative, imagining that everyone who is creative has no trouble simply dreaming up amazingly clever, creative ideas at the drop of a hat.
The secret is that building up your creative muscle can take some time and everyone, even art directors in world leading advertising agencies, photographers, designers and digital marketing experts, need to find ways to inspire and motivate creativity.
Here are some ways to help build up your creative mind and get those creative
"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul." -- Dieter F. Uchtdorf
1. Find Perspective
Thinking outside the box is often considered a common trait among creative people.
However, making your mind see things from varying perspectives can be a challenge, especially if you are not use to thinking creatively.
Our brain is programmed to disregard personal biases which often prevent us from thinking from a different angle.
According to Keith Sawyer, a research psychologist, one of the best ways to cultivate
creativity is by building the capacity for asking the right questions. He recommends practicing this by creating multiple variations of a simple question.
For example, “How can I sleep better?”.
An alternative would be, “What can I do to fix my sleep cycle?” or “Is having a heavy meal late at night affecting my sleep?”.
By thinking outside the box, we train our minds to find perspective. It is important to
recalibrate our thinking so we can think creatively.
An ideal tool to help you consider the questions you ask about a specific topic is
www.answerthepublic.com which lists all the questions being asked online about
Type in your topic, then peruse the questions being asked to see if there are some you haven’t considered.
Creativity Tip #1: Are you asking the right questions?
Can you look at this from a range of angles?
Can you put yourself in the shoes of the audience you are trying to engage and figure out what questions they want to have answered?
Can you try to write down 20 different questions about the same topic?
2. Build an Ideas Bank
Years ago, Gus Van De Roer started a design team which grew to become a respected design agency and was bought by one of the world's leading agency brands, DDB.
Gus had a habit of going around the agency after everyone had gone home and digging through the waste paper baskets, carefully un-creasing the ideas that the creatives had been scribbling down, but had tossed out as unsuitable.
Gus knew that although their ideas might not work for the brief in front of them, someday the perfect brief for that idea would come in, and they could still use the idea.
He would store the discarded ideas for future use. Generating ideas under pressure can often lead to a mental block. Here are some ways you can, like Gus, build an idea bank and get over commonly occurring writer’s block:
● Make it a habit to start journaling. Free form of writing helps get the creative juices flowing and for inspiration, you can find online resources such as Twords and Daily Page that can help with creative idea prompts.
● Look around you and identify five things that you can work with. Now list all the unusual ways you can use them. These ideas do not have to be based on sound logic. Just let your mind go with the flow.
● Invest in a doodle journal. Sometimes putting your ideas on paper can help you think better than having to concisely portray them digitally. We recommend using visual representations through flow charts or other shapes to help you process your thoughts better.
Creativity Tip #2: Are you generating ideas?
Can you start drawing, scribbling or writing down ideas in a journal?
Can you start gathering a folder on your computer of ideas, images, memes, quotes etc that might work someday for your brand?
Can you let go of being right, and open up to all the possible ideas, no matter how crazy, and just store them for future use?
3. Research and Development
Mark Twain once said “There is no such thing as a new idea”. He went on to say,
“We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages”.
So one of the things you can do is let go of the idea that you need to come up with an idea that is totally unique and has never been done before. Yes you need to be aware of copyright and make sure your ideas don’t infringe on others trademarks or IP, but there is nothing stopping you from doing a little R&D - Research and Development (or Ripp-off & Duplicate).
Taking the pressure off yourself and researching other ideas, consider what works and what doesn’t, get inspiration and learn from other ideas... then go ahead and develop your own ideas from that. We don’t mean plagiarise, but we do mean, opening up your eyes and your thinking to the concepts and ideas that are already here, and adding your own DNA or brand strategy to them.
Remember, becoming successfully creative at anything is not naturally acquired but instead, it is a learned skill. All the best creative solutions arise from having the right knowledge of the subject. Therefore, do not hold back in doing as much research as you can, in fact immersing yourself in the topic is a great way to grow creative ideas.
We recommend using Pinterest or developing vision boards in Canva to help you visualise and bring all aspects of the potential ideas together. This not only helps you master your creativity, it also provides you with a tool you can keep referring to and adding to it.
Creativity Tip #3: Are you researching enough?
Can you look outside of your own ideas at what others are doing?
Can you check out current advertisements for similar brands to see what works for them?
Can you use Google to check out ideas already in existence and then put your spin on them?
4. Do something creative
Sounds simple but often creativity is deemed to be the ability to draw or paint, where
you can be creative in all manner of things, including cooking, gardening, storytelling,
sewing, playing games, reading, photography….
The premise of this is that simply being creative, creating something, will help you develop capacities to think differently and become more creative in other areas of your life too. You might decide to even enroll in a course such as a writing course or a photography retreat, or start a new hobby such as flower arranging, cake decorating, pottery, card playing or a new sport. Ultimately you can apply your learned creativity to any line of work.
Everyday there will be opportunities for you to tune in to your innate creativity, especially if you have children in your life - they love storytelling, books, painting, creating, building… get the legos out and get down on the floor with your children or grandchildren...or even better, start a new hobby yourself!
Creative activity cultivates an environment of creative learning. You are surrounded by like-minded people that share a goal. Here are two ways to help you immerse yourself in creativity if you are joining a group or course:
● Utilise peer review. Remember that everyone around is there to learn and reviewing other people’s work or having someone review yours will help you generate new ideas.
● Sharing your ideas in group sessions. If you put many brains together, you are bound to come up with something phenomenal. Therefore, share your ideas and let others build on them. Some may be positive while others may be critical. Just remember, this is all part of the process.
Creativity Tip #4: Are you behaving creatively?
Can you start a new hobby, sport or interest that gets you thinking creatively?
Can you consider some of your everyday tasks as being more creative?
Can you start setting aside time to allow yourself to be creative?
5. Pretend Play: Channel Your Inner Child
Children are often considered naturally creative because they lack any personal inhibitions that would otherwise hold them back. When we can move past personal inhibitions, our creative mind naturally takes over.
Channel your inner child and try out pretend play activity. For instance, imagine being wildly successful five years down the road. Now think back and build on how you got there including the obstacles and how you overcame them.
Remember also that Children tend not to judge on the quality of creativity, they simply dive in and experience it. Don’t critique or criticise your own work, don’t hold back for fear of being judged and allow yourself to be childlike in your expectations.
There is no first prize or contest to win, you are simply being creative for the fun of it.
Additionally, you can also try leaving some of your tasks incomplete. By sleeping on an uncompleted task, you allow your subconscious brain to build on creative synapses that will help you achieve your goals more efficiently. After all, all the great inventors had a sudden burst of insight, and one day you might too.
Creativity Tip #5: Are you being childish enough?
Can you remove all barriers to creativity by realising no-one is judging you?
Can you let go of your concerns and worries and just imagine, letting your mind
wander where it will?
Can you allow yourself to draw, scribble, take notes, daydream, without concern over wasted time or productivity?
6. Travel Outside Your Comfort Zone
Creative at leading agencies don’t sit in their office all day, staring into space just waiting for a creative idea to strike them. Really good creatives are hardly found at their desk at all, in fact even Einstein could hardly even find his desk.
He once wrote “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to
think of an empty desk?”
When working with creative teams at world leading agencies, often they would be out of the agency, getting inspired by visiting the local park, beach or gardens, going to the museum, art gallery or theatre. Often they would immerse themselves in nature, or people watch, or travel on public transport, just to get away from the office and allow their brains to operate differently.
The best way to recalibrate your brain’s creative muscle is by exposing it to a vast array of cultural experiences. When you stimulate your brain by exposing it to new sights, smells, sounds, and tastes, the brain develops new synapses that help you think outside the box.
By immersing yourself in new cultures and experiences, the brain is catapulted into thinking broadly and building on imaginative tools. By traveling outside your comfort zone, you are immersing yourself in creative thinking.
The best form of creativity is embedded in utilising all your senses so turn on the music, go for a walk, sit under a tree and journal, watch the world go-by...allow creativity to spark, and it will, in the most surprising of places.
Creativity Tip #6: Are you getting out enough?
Can you go for a walk, drive or sit in nature and reflect, journal or simply allow
creativity to flow?
Can you listen to music, watch a ply or movie, read a book or go to an art gallery for inspiration?
Can you immerse yourself in another location for a short time, just enough to refresh your brain?
7. Get Creative While You Sleep
You’ve had a full-on day and now you are heading to bed. You rest your head on the pillow and are about to drift off to sleep when “wham” your brain delivers the best idea you’ve had all day!
There is a reason for this because, throughout your day your brain is bombarded with information and noise, but as soon as you go to bed, you are shutting out information from the brain and instead of being overwhelmed, it has time to take a break and do what it is meant to do...think.
The first sleep state is a non-REM light sleeping phase, when your brain is recalling memories from the day, solidifying them as memories. It is at this time that the creative and the factual parts of your brain are both working together, which is why you often get woken by an idea as you are falling asleep.
Amazingly creative ideas from scientific methods to the sewing machine were developed through dreams. So here are some tips to help you use this time to develop your creative thinking and capture those nighttime ideas that bubble to the top:
Have a bedtime routine, turn off the ‘bluelight’ and other distractions and give yourself time to relax before bed, ideally around 30 minutes before you want to sleep.
Take the time to wind-down, allowing thoughts from the day to come up and if you can, focus on the topic you are wanting to find ideas for.
Have a pen and paper handy next to the bed, so if you are woken with an idea you can write it down and look at it again when you are fully awake.
You can also train your brain to consider a problem overnight, making sure you focus on the issue or topic, and wake with the expectation of finding the answer, writing down what comes to mind. Nobel prizes have been won using this method!
Creativity Tip #7: Are you getting enough sleep?
Can you start setting a bedtime routine and taking a notebook to bed to capture your ideas?
Can you empty your thoughts at night, knowing there is nothing you can do about things now, and allow your brain to work it’s magic?
Can you start to train your brain to focus on topics and come up with ideas while you sleep?
Struggling with creativity is not something you suffer form alone, many people believe they are not creative, but you now know that you can learn and encourage creativity and enjoy coming up with amazing ideas.
The thing to remember is that there is a trap to simply sitting at a computer for hours on end, searching Auntie Google for all the answers and then beating up on yourself for not coming up with something new…that’s not trying to be creative, in fact you now know it is doing the exact opposite of what you should be doing.
The first step is to simply allow yourself the space and time to develop creative activities and thinking. Taking time out may at first seem irrational and unproductive At BrandCrafting we help you find the right inspiration to create a brand for your online business, by diving deep into our 10-day creative brief program and develop your brand’s creative brief.
Under the close guidance of our founders who have over 40 years of experience developing business solutions for retail and personal businesses, our team works closely to help you create a stand out brand that sells itself.