Do you ever feel creative pressures? Just like many of our clients, part of our job at Blezoo is to lay a golden creative egg as often as possible. This involves either uncovering an obscure premium product that wasn’t considered before or coming up with a unique way to combine multiple promotional products in unison. Either way, one of our big differentiators is that we’re not order takers but promotional innovators, and being creative is an important part of our core job.
Below are some tips to break down those creative blocks from Mark McGuinness that he wrote about in his article “7 Types of Creative Block (and What to Do About them)”:
The Mental Block
This is where you get trapped by your own thinking. You’re so locked into a familiar way of looking at the world that you fail to see other options. You make assumptions and approach a problem from a limiting premise. Or maybe your Inner Critic rears its head and stops you thinking straight.
Solution: You need to change your mind. Question your assumptions, ask yourself “What if…?”, and adopt different perspectives. Go somewhere new, or read/watch/listen to something new. Talk to people you can rely on to disagree with you, or offer an alternative point of view.
You may find creative thinking cards useful, such as Roger von Oech’s Whack Pack, Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies or IDEO’s Method Cards.
Work habits that don’t work.
Maybe there’s no great drama — you’re just trying to work in a way that isn’t compatible with your creative process. You work too early, too late, too long, or not long enough. You try to hard or not hard enough. You don’t have enough downtime or enough stimulation. Or maybe you haven’t set up systems to deal with mundane tasks – email, admin, accounting, etc – so they keep interfering with your real work.
Solution: Step back and take a good look at how you’re working, and where the pain points are. If it’s email, learn a new system for dealing with email. If you don’t have enough energy, are you working at the right time of day? If you feel paralyzed by freedom, introduce more structure and order into your day. If you feel constrained by routine, find room for improvisation.
There are no hard-and-fast rules — the only standard is whether your work habits work for you. Look for the right balance of routines, systems, and spontaneity for your creativity to thrive.
Sometimes a block comes from having too much, not too little. You’ve taken on too many commitments, you have too many great ideas, or you’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume of incoming demands and information. You feel paralyzed by options and obligations, or simply knackered from working too hard for too long.
Solution: It’s time to cut down. If you take on too many commitments, start saying ‘no’. If you have too many ideas, execute a few and put the rest in a folder labeled ‘backburner’. If you suffer from information overload, start blocking off downtime or focused worktime in your schedule (here are some tools that may help). Answer email at set times. Switch your phone off, or even leave it behind. The world won’t end. I promise.
Mark McGuinness is a creative coach with over 15 years experience of helping clients get past creative blocks. For in-depth advice on dealing with a range of creative blocks, download Mark’s FREE e-book 20 Creative Blocks (and How to Break Through Them).