Most people think artists and designers are the most creative people, who generate ideas on a 24/7 basis. They believe that creative thoughts pop into their heads routinely and with ease, but the reality is far less planned. However, creativity often comes in bursts and disappears as quickly, even when there’s a problem that needs immediate solving. The arbitrary nature can seem incredibly frustrating, to both the designer and the client. If you work in a creative pursuit, media, graphic design, illustration, for example, there are few things as agonizing as a creative block. Fortunately, there are many ways to stimulate fresh ideas without twiddling your thumbs until the light bulb pops on again. Here are seven fantastic suggestions to help you brainstorm and develop original ideas with regularity.
Find a Comfortable Spot
Distractions are an idea generators worst enemy. Find a spot where you can relax with a pen and paper, stare at something beautiful but benign and just muse over the project or problem at hand. If you find yourself sitting at your computer staring at a screen in angst or succumbing to time-wasting sites while you half-heartedly think upon the issue, you’re doing yourself no favors. Get out of the office. Find a quiet room or a park bench and indulge in a short, simple meditation to calm and center the mind.
Be Wild and Crazy
Spur the thought process by generating bizarre, outlandish and impossible ideas, the weirder the better. It starts your brain thinking in unusual ways, which allows you to brainstorm creative new angles for your project in a natural way. Write down or sketch out every fantasy possibility and select the more grounded elements of each one later. From these crazy ideas, a more sensible one can begin to emerge.
Sketch Out Ideas
As mentioned above, sketching out ideas is essential for bucking the design rut. People in creative pursuits are often visual learners, so even the process of writing down an idea can help crystallize the notion and breed additional direction or details. Once you can see the outline for an idea, you’re more likely to recognize what you need to do to develop the idea further and make it more realistic.
Have Specific Goals
Brainstorming some wild ideas to activate the brain is helpful, but from there you need to find clarity. Have specific goals in mind before you begin the process, so you can more easily take something useful from the exercise later. Generalities will lead to more issues down the line, so be precise in your expectations. For instance, rather than saying you need to create a popular website that gets talked about, decide you need to utilize social media and interactivity to draw users. How will you do that?
Make a Time Commitment
Don’t spend too long in your brainstorming reverie. You need to have a stopping point that puts a little pressure on you to follow through with an idea and keeps you from endless dawdling in the land of make believe. Constrain your session to a few hours. Allow enough time to start generating interesting ideas but don’t overtax your mind for days on end.
If meditating, time constraints and sketches aren’t giving you much, try playing a few word games that stimulate ideas with regards to the project or problem at hand. Write down words you associate with the assignment, the users or the end result. From those initial words, write down words you associate with them. Get weird, get wild, and then come back later to see if any of them inspire something useful.
There are moments in every artist’s life when he needs to reach out and take advice from others. You see the problem from one angle, but someone else may see it from another, especially if they work in another field. Enlist the help from friends, coworkers or even strangers. Much of it may be useless, but it only takes one startling new idea to jumpstart a project.
Overcoming a creative block or finding a solution to a problem is one of the most difficult parts of being an artist. While doing research, exploring inspirational work from other designers or musing independently can often alleviate issues, sometimes you just need to set up a serious brainstorming session and entertain some weird, outside the box ideas. These suggestions will get you started, but feel free to sketch out your reactions to them too.