‘I’m experiencing a creative crisis’ and ‘I’ve lost my inspiration’ are some of the magical excuses people make when they are unable to come up with something that would satisfy their team’s or client’s wishes.
The jury is still out on whether these paranormal effects exist. I believe that inspiration is merely the emotional response to the creative process. We get excited when we solve a long standing problem and we feel blue if we get stuck and can only watch in horror as the clock ticks down time to the ever approaching deadline.
The truth is that the creative process does not need a magic rainbow to cradle the sky, it happens all the time in our heads and our only enemy in this journey is our own mind. The mind is inert and lazy, the process of evolution has primed it to always look for the easiest solution. Thus limiting our capability to come up with something novel. After trying a myriad of different approaches I want to offer you a few effective ones that have managed to get me out of the rut before and helped me in creating something original.
It just so happens that people who work together tend to think alike. Similar assignments, the same values, a shared professional lingo forces us into a similar mindset. Because of this reason, even when a group of colleagues gather together into a brainstorming session they are rewarded with rather unimpressive results. Everything seems standardized, already seen and done and nothing seems to really shine out from the rest. I would suggest you try a different approach. Instead of gathering together a group of colleagues, call upon a single one, preferably a colleague you do not work with often. Individually come up with some ideas and present them to each other. Continue on by telling your colleague to pick out the best idea he or she had. Question the idea, try to find out why this idea was chosen, why was it his or her favorite. It might turn out that the both of you were thinking about the assignment from different angles and the idea you just questioned might turn out to be different from the way you initially understood it. Once done, switch places and do it all over again.
The more extensive the vocabulary of a communications expert the better he or she is at identifying and executing an idea. However, before the idea is crystalized an extensive vocabulary might become a hindrance. As any and all types of code, language funnels us into a specific way of thinking based on how we speak and write. Images can come to our aid, instead of verbalizing your idea try to visualize it through drawing. Add small unnecessary details to your drawing. After all, a forest is filled with more than just trees, perhaps there is a fairy living there or a wandering woodcutter that has been lost for years. If at all possible, try to involve a person that is more apt in the visual arts. Give yourself a challenge of completing the same assignment both verbally and visually. Present your ideas and see how many differences you can find between the way you think through words and through visual representations.
Communication experts use facts all the time. After all, that is the basis of our work and we know well what facts we need to look for or they reach us through our assignments. Sadly, facts might add little to the originality of our ideas. Try to look for facts in a more chaotic and random fashion, if need be narrow down your search field to chosen sphere. Don’t use the facts themselves, rather notice what kind of impulses they give your mind and your imagination. Say you are looking for ideas for a coffee chain and found that the name for cappuccino was derived from Capuchin friars. Why not use other monastic orders for different coffee types? Templars, Franciscans, Basilian monks etc. Try to focus on cold hard facts, avoid media interpretations and conclusions drawn by other people.
Since childhood I was always drawn to names for Jazz pieces. Around 50% of popular music is named after lyrics that can be heard in the chorus or the hook, while the instrument dominated world of jazz is very different. You can only imagine whether Miles Davis heard the phrase ‘So What’ before coming up with the famous piece or he merely wanted to capture the carefree feeling you get while listening to it. Where did John Coltrane take the blue train to? Merely thinking about it is a creative twist to detective work trying to follow in the footsteps of jazz giants. The internet is full of jazz playlists. Without looking at the real names of the songs try and come up with fitting ones yourself. Imagine that Herbie Hancock created it for your client or is playing it during the opening of a new store. Take note on how your thoughts follow one after the other and once the music stops you might find yourself surprised as to where jazz has taken you.
We often feel exhausted because we know the inner workings of our thoughts too well. The world is governed by physics, everything is measured in money and all of us will first become a nuisance to our kinds and then we will die. If all the thoughts of the world can’t pass the hurdle of not being mundane, then try and adapt them for a different world. Pick a different world you are familiar with. Perhaps it is J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth or maybe the animated town of Springfield? Do not limit yourself to just one new world either. If your ideas can travel through 10 different ones, well, that’s even better. How would Caesar and Cleopatra advertise a new type of lemonade? What billboard for car insurance would work in Twin Peaks or on the streets of Santa Barbara? How would you imagine an attractive ad for a job on Facebook once the internet is finally turned on in North Korea? Now transport these ideas back to our world? I bet they do not feel the same as before.