Another day, another creative idea. You’ve got a screen headache and you are pretty sure you forgot the gas on at home. Being a “creative” isn’t all about the glamour and the vaguely pretentious job title. Sometimes the going gets tough and you have to do a lot of creative thinking when you’d rather just be doing something less taxing like filling in spreadsheet (or sleeping). Being creative can be exhausting and time-consuming. Here are some creativity hacks to help you beat creative exhaustion.
Get Into Really Weird Stuff
If you cultivate real curiosity and champion eclectic tastes, you are more likely to find new and surprising angles, shapes, and colors. Start using visual research tools and become a creative magpie by saving and pinning everything that you like. Actively choose to leave your creative comfort zone and explore all that is out there in this crazy, crazy world.
Don’t let language become a barrier–embrace the global creativity market and open your eyes to Brazilian textile patterns, Danish design, and Russian art to really start breaking down cultural norms. We have all been subtly programmed by our surroundings and culture to think within certain frameworks and parameters that are limited and limiting. Open up the global Pandora’s box.
Think Like The Other Side
Are you a writer? Stop yourself from using words (gulp). Put yourself in the shoes of other creators who use graphics or even code instead. Like a watercolor artist trying to deal with the heavy cloying of oil paint for the first time–shifting your priorities and creative tools can help you be more creative.
Try to think like the people who work in the complete opposite medium to you–even better if they wouldn’t agree with what you do! This will definitely give your creativity a boost.
Indulge In Mind-Bending Travel Time
Sometimes when you can’t get physical distance from a creative project (or you did and it didn’t work), psychological distance helps. Here’s what to do:
- Imagine the brief has nothing to do with you. It’s a friend’s or stranger’s problem. What would you say to them?
- Write or create as someone else. Channel their narrative voice instead of your own.
- Time travel with your brief. Would it look, sound, or feel any different a hundred years ago or a hundred years from today?
- Travel to another world with your brief. Turkey, Mexico, Italy–how would people in those countries approach your pickle? Take it even further and travel to a dystopian dictatorship or a love commune with your ideas and watch them shift
More about psychological distance and creativity here.
This is a great strategy if you find being too close to a piece of work is stifling and limiting. Personal issues can intervene and distract us with their chatter and noise. Psychological distancing helps you depersonalize the creative process.
Set Weird Boundaries
Because funnily enough, boundaries help you be more creative. Boundaries help you channel your creative energy. Limit yourself to certain colors, like yellow, or certain themes, like insects, to see what you can come up with. See weird and interesting synergy in everything.
But, word of warning–only some boundaries help. Namely the ones you set yourself. Boundaries imposed by a rigid framework or project aren’t usually that fruitful or helpful (sorry).
Slap Yourself In The Face With Motivators
Creativity and motivation go together like creatives and burnout. You need to keep your motivation levels high and your blood pumping to be able to be creative.
- Use positive language about yourself and your projects. Frustration is normal and sometimes you have to let it out, but don’t keep constantly beating yourself up.
- Have daily motivational quotes flooding your inbox and Twitter feed. Put on some motivational music and put your lucky socks on. Adjust your environment to motivate–don’t underestimate the power of your environment to suck all the juices out of you. Don’t forget to also move around enough during the day.
- Get riled up about something to find your motivation. Amazing artist Stuart Haygarth creates poignant photographs that highlight plastic pollution. Using your creativity as a platform for social commentary on something you care about is super powerful and motivating.
Divergent thinking is sexy. Divergent thinking is stuff like this awesome artist that puts people’s heads in art galleries. Encouraging yourself to get into a divergent thinking state can take many forms–some people love to run, do yoga, meditate, or just practice free association. Divergent thinking is about harnessing the amazing chemistry of your brain and encouraging it to make connections and work all on its own, without you even trying. In a divergent state you will create things anew.
Gareth Simpson is a creative marketer who is always looking for new and exciting campaign ideas. You can learn more about him on his website.