How to: avoid creative block and keep the ideas flowing

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In our industry, a bit like the film industry – you’re only as good as your last blockbuster. The pressure is always on. How do you keep on churning out the good stuff? Legally? One only has so much creative juice, eh? I believe creativity has three forms:

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Creative genius, part brilliance and part insanity, which comes from seeing the world on its head. Then latent creativity, which requires another person or an external source to ignite it – examples of this are famous partnerships such as Gilbert & George, Morecombe and Wise, Dolce & Gabbana, Lennon & McCartney. Finally there is your own creative source. Alone with a pencil. Paint brush. Computer screen. And pure imagination. It’s enough to send shivers down your spine.

How do you keep creative ideas flowing when it’s down to you? When your livelihood depends on it? We need to delve into the recesses of the mind to understand where ideas come from. Scientists have come up with interesting hypotheses but we don’t really know. Some studies hint that the brain is constantly renewing itself, even as it ages. As the scientific debate continues, here are some ‘brain-cheat’ ways to boost your ideas hit-rate:

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Read

Sounds like a no-brainer but varying your reading material is a great way to boost brain power and stimulate your thought processes with new ideas, approaches or opinions. If you like historical novels, change your genre and try some suspense.

Dictionaries

…are a great, if slightly geeky place to find inspiration. My grandfather – who lived to be 100 years young – did the cryptic crossword every day and assured me that learning new words was the best way to keep your brain alert!

Film dialogue

…can be dire, but it can also be incredibly evocative. So switch on a flick – tell your friends you’re watching for research purposes. Who can forget the line from Casablanca: “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine…” so evocative. Some TV advertisements shamelessly pay homage to iconic movies and why not? If you’ve achieved your client’s objective and shifted units as a result of being inspired by a line or two from a film, roll the tape!

Explore poetry

Poets can contort and expand words and ideas to the limits of understanding. Delve into the work of modern and classic poets and see if you don’t get inspired.

Read children’s books

I recently attended an author talk with the hugely successful Jacqueline Wilson. It was inspiring to hear her thoughts on writing for children, her techniques for writing and her motivations.

There are people, however, who smash the premise of requiring external stimuli and simply ‘ create’. Cartoonist Gary Larson’s quote seems to be laughing in the face of an ideas dearth:

“People try to look for deep meanings in my work. I want to say, ‘They’re just cartoons, folks. You laugh or you don’t. Gee, I sound shallow. But I don’t react to current events or other stimuli. I don’t read or watch TV to get ideas. My work is basically sitting down at the drawing table and getting silly.”

The fashion world and poetry are great examples where creative types get drunk on inspiration from their surroundings: think William Wordsworth who famously “wondered lonely as a cloud” subsequently crediting the inspiration for his romantic verse to a walk in the picturesque Lake District taken with his sister and spotted the belt of daffodils. And picture the stone, sludge, and rain coloured clothes that swamp the Autumn/Winter season catwalks.

Or if all of that fails, get in touch, I usually have an idea or two going spare.

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Suzy Rigg

Author: Suzy Rigg

Suzy is a copywriter at EveryWordCopywriting. Follow her on Twitter.