By Emily Shea, VP/Partner & Executive Creative Director
November 27, 2018
The dreaded creative rut. We’ve all been there. That “I’ve got nothing” feeling as a deadline draws near. And, as the clock tick-tocks, driving you into a state of madness, you slip farther away from the possibility of uncovering that big idea.
Stress is probably one of the biggest inhibitors of creative thinking, and it takes a special person to be able to set aside all the consequences of “what if I don’t deliver” in favor of opening up yourself to the likelihood that you will.
In order to innovate, you must first stop the downward spiral of dread. Better yet, don’t allow it to happen in the first place. Here are a few of the techniques I use personally and recommend to anyone who wants to boost their creativity.
The best way to stay creative is to have a thorough understanding of the paths that have already been charted. From reading industry publications to attending seminars, workshops and other educational events, staying informed is a critical practice for every creative. Trends, tactics and creative solutions are not only inspiring, they can often lay the groundwork for something entirely new.
Good creative inspires good creative. In his excellent book Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), Jeff Tweedy writes: “I think that may be the highest purpose of any work of art, to inspire someone else to save themselves through art. Creating creates creators.” Tweedy nailed it. I regularly encourage people to experience art in order to inspire better results. And, by art, I don’t mean other ads. This is about going to a museum. Watching a performance. Listening to records. Reading books. Taking in a movie. Inspiration is all around us. And, more often than not, it’s in an unlikely place—far beyond your comfort zone. So get out there and find it.
All too often, creative solutions are pulled from our own personal histories and perspectives. If you have lots of history and a broad range of perspectives, that’s great. If not, it’s a huge inhibitor. It seems simple, but talking to others and gaining perspectives other than our own opens up a whole new set of solutions. Chat with colleagues, friends and family members and find out what they think. This isn’t about having them solve the problem for you. Rather, it’s having them help you discover a new solution. Pro tip: If they start talking, and you completely, 100 percent disagree with them, keep listening. You’re likely onto something.
Take A Break
When there’s a seemingly insurmountable problem, the industrious among us are inclined to continue grinding away when, in fact, we should probably be walking away. At least for a moment or two. Go for a run, have drinks with friends, take a nap or just work on something else for a spell. If you start feeling like you’re headed toward a rut—avoid the damn rut! Pursue another direction, then get back to it. The people who said “there’s no rest for the wicked” and “you can sleep when you’re dead” are probably wickedly uncreative and, most likely, dead.
Do you have any tricks or tools you use to stay creative? If so, I’d love to hear about them. Share them here—we might include them in an upcoming post.