Marketers and communicators are under constant pressure to come up with creative and interesting content every day; sometimes we are given exciting campaigns that spur and drive our creativity, and sometimes the brief is less stimulating, and we get stuck.
Unfortunately, we can’t choose when we’re at our most creative – how great would that be?!
In fact, many studies have found that creativity happens unconsciously and is not within our control. So, when it comes to getting creative, we occasionally need a little help to get going. At Firefly, we know only too well that outstanding work will keep the flow of our creative juices going. But what can you do to pull yourself out of your creative rut and re-light your spark?
Luckily for you, I’ve found some great tools to help boost your creativity and get you back on the path to success.
Be a bit random
Brainstorming can be a brilliant way to boost creativity. Getting ideas from your colleagues and bouncing thoughts from one person to another can really help to build ideas. However, sometimes it’s not possible to have a big brainstorming meeting – after all, your colleagues won’t be available all the time. This is where Brainsparker comes in.
Brainsparker is a free app that helps you stretch your creative muscles without relying on a colleague. The app contains 200 cards with thought-provoking words or phrases, you simply shake your smartphone and it produces a new card. These random trigger words will help you to relate to the problem at hand and hopefully, get thinking a little more creatively.
Let the robots lend a hand
Marketers and communicators put together presentation decks and campaign proposals on a daily basis and more often than not, they can end up looking very similar with the same ideas repeating, particularly if your clients are in the same sector. Instead of wracking your brains for more inspiration and getting stressed because you’ve lost your mojo, let Yossarian do the work for you.
On the Firefly blog last month, we discussed the benefits of Yossarian and how It links unusual concepts together to help broaden our thoughts and ideas beyond our usual scope. Check out this AI tool if you’re feeling that a lack of creativity is getting you down.
Back to basics
It’s great that we have a selection of tools which can help us think more creatively, but sometimes we need to go back to the basics and use the tricks we heard about years ago. One brilliant technique for encouraging creative thinking and boosting productivity is mind mapping. And no, I’m not suggesting that you do some Sherlock Holmes style, internal mind palace brainstorming. It’s far simpler than that.
The key to a successful mind map is to write down every idea you have, no idea is too silly or too farfetched. In fact, the more ideas you jot down, the better.
Mind maps can be used for any thinking or learning task, whether that’s coming up with a campaign or thinking of a topic for a blog, just make sure that you have fun with creating your mind map. Choose bright colours to link your thoughts and ideas together, draw images instead of words or use some funky software to make it look exciting. For some free mind mapping software check out Coggle and WiseMapping.
Have some fun
When you get stuck in a creative rut, it’s easy to give up. But, if you give up too quickly, you’ll never learn how to overcome your creative block. Instead, try and have some fun while thinking up some creative ideas. A great place to start is to listen to someone inspirational and motivating. TED Talks are a brilliant way to get ideas and start thinking more creatively. The slogan for these conferences is ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’ and they attract some of the most innovative and creative minds on the planet. The free TED app includes hundreds of videos that can provide you with some refreshed creative inspiration and encourage you to think, dare I say it, outside of the box.
All of the videos can be downloaded to your phone and the ‘Inspire Me’ function allows you to select what kind of inspirational video you’re looking for.
It’s all child’s play
Young children are tremendously creative. They are constantly asking questions and using their imagination, primarily because they are often experiencing situations for the first time. Yes, it can be quite annoying when you have a child constantly asking you ‘why’ or ‘how’, but they have the right idea.
As we get older, we stop asking the ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘why’ questions because we have experience, and those questions have been explained to us. But could this be affecting our imagination? Perhaps if we asked a few more questions, our content might be a little more creative.
This is where Alex’ Osborn’s checklist technique comes into play. This very simple exercise is essentially a list of questions that you should ask yourself before starting your work.
There are six main questions you should ask yourself before beginning any piece of creative work:
If you can answer these questions before beginning a task, you’ll likely come up with some interesting and creative answers, saving you from getting half way through a campaign brief and then running out of ideas.
So, there you have it — hopefully I’ve given you some simple techniques to think about if you’re ever stuck in a creative rut.
The truth is, we can’t all have a list of creative ideas on demand, and sometimes we do need a little help. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, try out a few of these tips and start getting creative with your content.