5 ideas to kick-start your creativity
I’m not creative. How on earth do you come up with ideas for blogs?
This is one of the most common questions at my business blogging masterclass. My response is always to the first statement - ‘You are creative, you just don’t know how to switch it on yet’. By the end of the session they are bursting with ideas.
So this post is essential reading for all those who don’t believe they are creative.
Creativity strikes when you least expect it
Over summer, I remodelled the beds at the bottom of my garden, which involved digging out an old shrub and replacing it with some lush new specimens. To help my new eucalyptus trees get off to a flying start, I mulched the soil with plenty of homemade compost.
Just a few days later, I noticed what looked like tomato seedlings growing next to the eucalyptus saplings. Then the heavy rains came and the heatwave followed and, you guessed it, the seedlings turned into full blown tomato plants. And it wasn’t just tomatoes that appeared. There were potato plants and a couple of unidentified brassicas too! Clearly, my homemade compost packed a punch.
It was far too late in the season for any fruits to grow and most of the plants had flopped over during a heavy downpour. Two thoughts struck me as I was pulling up my rogue garden visitors.
1. Creativity can blossom when and where you least expect it.
2. All we need for creativity to blossom is the right time, space and conditions.
This is why when I take on a creative brief I tend to dip in and out of it over the course of a few days. Ideas come to me at the strangest of times. We’re all familiar with how the best ideas tend to arrive when you’re in the shower or whilst driving in the car. I believe it has something to do with your mind being focused on one task, leaving capacity for creative thinking (psychologists, do enlighten us). My other sparks include a line in a film or an interview, overhearing a conversation, or as in writing this piece, gardening.
Unlike tomato plants, us humans are a little more particular about the conditions we need to spark creativity. If you struggle to generate ideas, here are some tips.
1. You can’t force creativity
Never sit down and expect the ideas to flow. Being creative isn’t a task you can tick off your list. It’s a continuous process. Give yourself space and time and take the pressure off. I like to move around the house and garden when I’m working on a creative brief. Sometimes all you need to trigger a spark is to be in another place.
2. Do your research
Placing yourself in different environments will trigger your mind to look in other directions. Go to a shop, look online, read other people’s blogs and social posts. Sit in a café and imagine those people are your customers. How would you approach them to share your ideas?
3. Open your mind to other channels
If you’re struggling to think of a title for a blog post, never sit down at your desk and put pressure on yourself to come up with one. Rather than fixate on the title or headline, try thinking about how you would approach the subject for a completely different channel such as a poster or a billboard where space is at a premium and the words you choose are crucial.
4. If you could share one message, what would it be?
What’s the one most important message to get across from your blog post?
What’s one attractive aspect of your new product?
What’s the value that sets your business apart from the rest?
This is a great way to get your brain to focus and shut out all of the noise. Concentrate on one thing. If your mind wanders, that’s ok (make a note of those thoughts), but keep bringing your mind back to this one crucial theme that’s important for your audience to understand until you’ve exhausted it.
5. Open your mind to other perspectives
While focusing on one theme can be productive, never discount other angles or perspectives. They might help you to hit on a gem of an idea.
When I’m working on a rebrand project I look at the brief from different perspectives. For example, the shape, use and feel of a product might give me three different angles for its name. Or when creating key messages for a marketing campaign, I consider it from the perspective of the audience, the organisation, and their stakeholders.
Inspired? I hope so.
You don’t need to sow tomato seeds to sow the seeds of ideas, but the action just might spark the creative in you.