Feb 16, 2017 | Payel Mukherjee
Have you ever felt stuck? Have you ever felt like you cannot, for the life of you, come up with an idea that works? Have you ever felt so hopeless that innumerable cups of freshly brewed coffee did precious little to pull you out of the rut?
Whether or not you are involved in a creative profession, chances are that you must have definitely gone through one or all of these above situations. Though as normal as forgetting to water your plants on some days, getting into a blocked state of mind is something we all would like to avoid as much as un-watered plants. You would like to sit at your desk, your fingers posed over your keyboard, and you would want your ideas or your code to spring to life! So how do we make sure that the story always ends happily, like this?
Let us try to go through some ideas which might help you pick yourself up, give your ideas a shot of freshness, and boost your creativity!
1. Get away from it all
It is not uncommon to feel that you simply cannot move ahead or come up with a new idea or concept, regarding writing or designing, among other things. The first step to tackle this block is to step away from it, far away from it. Give it all a break and do something else entirely. Remove yourself from the situation and try to take a hard, close look at it later. The new perspective will shape your mind in a way that you would never have thought possible.
For me, it comes most often in the form of a walk. This is the easiest and most practical way out – out of home and out of my mind, especially if the day is beautiful outside and the kids are at school. Sometimes, if deadlines are not looming right up ahead, a day of ‘not-doing-any-work’ or simple binge watching Netflix works wonders for me. In the best case scenario, if time and your purse permit, a short vacation to a beautiful place, away from your trials and tribulations, would act as a tonic and pep you up no end.
A change of scene or activity helps you clear your head and if not anything else, takes your mind away from the depression that comes from being stuck. In most cases, the simple idea of a change in your routine will add that extra spring in your step and an added zing to your creativity. You will be able to get a new idea for a story or come up with a new angle to tackle your problem from, and voila! You will be out of that depressing, mind-numbing rut that had been so bothering you.
2. Immerse Yourself in a Related Hobby
Most creative people are passionate about their work. So much so that they end up having hobbies that are directly related to their work. A creative writer most often will love to read – anything and everything, that helps him or her cull nuggets of writing styles or patterns that can help future projects. A digital communication professional will invariably be drawn to new updates in his or her field – the latest trends on Twitter or Instagram or the new things that Facebook and Snapchat throw at you, at regular intervals. At the same time, an online marketer will probably always want to keep abreast of the latest quirky ways of attracting potential consumers online and hooking them while spreading the good word on the Internet.
Being on top of the scene in the periphery of your actual work as your hobby goes a long way in keeping your interest alive and kicking, in your head. If you have to groom your mind to feel that way, then do it.
It helps, trust me. I, for one, am hooked to blogs on all kinds of writing. While bloggers share their own experiences dealing with a variety of projects, I can at times identify myself with them. I have later tried their approaches to solve my problems or tackle a situation, and I have benefited. So my blog-following hobby has been my key. It would help you a lot if you could zero in on yours and embrace it. The newness of updates or experiences can get your own creativity going, big time.
3. Engage in Conversation
Different people, with their different mindsets, will have different ways of looking at a problem and working towards its solution. Getting to know new people and talking to them, picking their brains, not necessarily about your specific problem at hand always, can open new horizons for you. You can read somebody’s articles and wonder about the whys and hows but nothing works better than talking to the person and getting your doubts clarified from him or her, face to face. Even without an ulterior motive of finding something exciting from a conversation, it always makes sense to talk to people.
I was once speaking to a lady sitting beside me in a tram, while going through a particularly dangerous bout of writer’s block. The conversation I had with her, regarding her small-sized business of party orders for cakes and desserts and how she was using Facebook and Instagram to draw customers from around her neighborhood, made me go back home and check out her Facebook page. And boy, did that little lady know her business and marketing!
Needless to say, I was awestruck and that talk was just the right jolt I needed to crawl back out of the hole I thought I had fallen into. So, yes, converse, engage. You never know how it might be of help.
4. Storm your brains out!
What I love best about brainstorming, be it with a group or just picking your own brain from various angles, that the process lets you be. You can think of anything, open the windows of your mind, and let go. Be funny, be silly, be what you might think is irrelevant, inconsequential. But do the thinking, sincerely. The storm that your thoughts create, along with inputs you receive from others (if any), always helps.
Tell yourself that you will keep aside a time slot of say half an hour to just crunch out one idea or the other, no matter how irrelevant they seem. It is very rare to find the ‘best concept’ or ‘the perfect idea’ at the first go. So, don’t get disheartened.
From the pool of ideas that you think up, you will for sure find something that you like most and find suitable for your situation. I, for one, have found that when I get into a mode of brainstorming, out of the 10 ideas that I initially drum up, at least two or three are genuine, solid ones, which I am able to work with and make very good use of later. So, think.
5. Put everything to paper
Many prolific creative persons insist that some of their best ideas come to them while they are doing anything but writing, such as while taking a shower, walking the dog, or standing in line at the checkout counter. Does it happen to you too? Whether or not it does, the best thing to do when an idea floats into your mind is to make a note of it. No, not just a mental note, for you might forget it soon enough.
You need to write a note. Get a piece of paper and pen and jot down the idea and put it your wallet. If you do not have a handy piece of paper, you surely will at least have a cell phone. Make use of it. In your Notes or substitute App, type in your idea, bullet points or whatever helps you to recollect the concept you thought about.
As for me, my phone has a permanent folder with ideas. Now not that all of them are amazing, but I would like to believe some are! So, write everything down. It always helps to look at a paper or a screen and see your ideas in letters and sentences. It helps mold your nascent concept, grow more on it, and give shape to a full-bodied thriving one. If the above has still not worked for you, here are some more tricks.
TRY THESE WAYS TO UNTANGLE THE CREATIVE KNOT YOU FIND YOURSELF IN
Get rid of bad ideas
If you are constantly thinking of one particular idea and that is not taking you anywhere, then get rid of it. Yes, deprive it of oxygen, that is your time and thought, and move away. Just drop it and look back to another idea, maybe one you had come up during the brainstorming phase. If not, just try to look at the issue from a completely different angle. But don’t get stuck to an idea that is not helping you or itself.
No matter what your area of specialty is, reading always helps. So, read. Read up about your tricks of trade, read up articles, blogs, Facebook and Instagram pages on your zone of expertise. If you are not in the mood to think about work, just read about whatever you want. Get hold of a book or a magazine and get started. While topics related to your profession might help you in your work, the simple act of reading anything and everything, by itself is a great block breaker. It relaxes your mind while at the same time helps you to concentrate. This brings your mind together, so when you sit down for work, maybe your creative juices will be all a-brimming!
Listen to music
The good effects of music therapy have been very widely written about. So why not make use of that? Listen to any music of your choice. Be it anything from music by Bach or Vivaldi to that by Guns and Roses and One Direction, listen to something that you want to, that you think will let your mind untangle itself, and give your creativity a much-needed boost. Because being devoid of creative ideas hurts the people concerned almost like an illness. So, use the medication you think will help the best in making you feel better.
Children are the most uninhibited of groups of human beings in this world. With all their wide-eyed innocence and sense of wonder, they sometimes use the simplest of methods to solve what we might consider complicated problems. Watching their unpolished, straightforward ways of going about things might just give you an idea, which is sitting right there in front of you, but is so simple that you never thought about it. Kids are magnificent that way. Observing them can go a long way in helping us wrap our heads around problems and get our creative juices flowing.
Get someone else’s opinion
When you are constantly second-guessing yourself, or wondering whatever happened to new ideas that came to you so easily, talk to a friend or peer. Tell them about your problem and if you are lucky to have helpful souls around you, they will show you a way out. Discuss the project in which you are stuck or talk about issues related to the project and your friend or colleague might just be able to give you a clue or a pointer from his or her experiences. And that might be the game changer for you.
The most important thing of all is to never give up. No matter for how long you have been stuck and how hard you have been trying to get out of the rut, remember, it is never the end. It is just a tiny hurdle on the way and if you try overcoming it, giving it all you got, you will get past it. There is always a way out, you just need to chance upon the correct inspiration to get to your destination.
Hope you found these ideas helpful. If you have more ideas to share with us on the same subject, let us know in the comments section.
Happy Thinking !!!
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