Ask any creative professional and they’ll be happy to tell you all about the creative process, the sacred 'flow' and how they’ve personally managed to cope with creative block. But the creative process is not just of the essence for copywriters and designers. If your job is rather technical, you may think you’re not capable of creativity, but that is a misconception. Creative thinking is a skill all of us can - and should - hone and master.
Still convinced creative thinking is not for you? Don’t sweat it! In this article, we’ve compiled some tips and tricks so you can train your creative muscle - the mind.
Another misconception is that your mind should be a creative engine, ceaselessly spitting out original ideas. But the truth of the matter is that you can only be truly original every so often. Humankind has been around for a while and during our time here, our insatiable curiosity has driven us to dream up, develop and test any remotely interesting thought that has floated into our minds. That makes it rather difficult to come up with ideas that are fresh and unexpected.
There’s good news though. You don’t always need to go to extraordinary lengths to blow people’s socks off. An equally effective - and far less strenuous technique - is to steal and creatively adapt. To be clear, we’re not talking plagiarism here. But many ideas have already been put out there. By refining them or putting a new spin on them, you can come up with some brilliant creative concepts.
Another piece of advice is to practice divergent thinking. This involves stimulating creativity by thinking up as many different solutions as you can. Only once you’ve let your imagination run wild, you can review your ideas according to what's actually feasible. Another top tip is to really take to heart the open-mindedness intrinsic to divergent thinking. That means that you should be open to all kinds of ideas, and not get too attached to any of them either.
Creatives can get their inspiration from virtually anywhere. Try reading and absorbing as much as possible. Not just industry-specific news and articles, but also world events and literally anything you can get your hands on. Just like you’d switch up your workout to not overexert any muscles, your brain also benefits from processing varying types of information. You never know when you can spot an opportunity and make something seemingly unrelated relevant to your brand.
Some large brands even have something akin to 'war rooms'. Employees are continuously monitoring what’s happening in the world and on the various social media platforms for an opportunity to creatively insert their brand into the conversation.
Looking to work on your creative condition? We’ve added some more exercises below which you can incorporate into your daily sweat sesh for the mind.
Challenge yourself to come up with 10 original ideas per day, whether they end up being useful or not. Getting into the habit will facilitate the process of creative thinking.
Set a timer. There are various ideation exercises you can use. A personal favorite is the Crazy Eight where the goal is to come up with 8 ideas in 8 minutes.
Stuck? Change the scenery or the time of day. Take a break or carry out a task that's completely different.
Take a walk. Getting your body moving, especially in a natural environment like a forest, stimulates the brain and helps to get the creative juices flowing.
As we’ve explained, to get some protein for the mind, it helps to expand your horizons and look beyond your niche. Read and watch anything you can get your hands on.
Set the timer and allow yourself 10 minutes to just write or doodle. No rules, no goals, just freewrite or draw for 10 minutes to warm up that creative muscle.
Get a colleague's perspective on your work or take another look yourself, but in a different light. Print out a paper copy, change the font size or color or view your idea from a different angle.
Sometimes all your muscle needs for optimum performance is a little recovery. If your flow is well and truly blocked, set aside your creative endeavors and get some well-deserved rest.