The best feeling is when you sit down to do whatever you do and inspire just flows. When you’re in “the zone”, ideas, words, solutions come easily to you. Getting stuff done is easy when your creative energy is flowing. Sometimes the hard part is keeping up with your own self.
Conversely, the most frustrating feeling is when you sit down and you have nothing. You. are. facing. this. blank. space. that. you. cannot. seem. to. fill. It’s painfully slow and even the most basic idea takes forever to come up with. Remaining at your desk feels like a complete waste of time.
Creativity is sometimes like that.
If you are in the business of creating (ideas/connections/new products/solutions) as most of us entrepreneurial types are, it is a barrier to getting stuff done. As a writer and an entrepreneur, let me tell you that you can control your own creativity. The trick is knowing how to trigger is when you feel a little less inspired.
#1: Make a List — Start by picking a number and adding those numbers to your blank page. Just the simple act of adding to that blank space makes it feel less daunting, but it’s also a challenge, a small goal. Your small goal is to think of that number of things (and as long as you didn’t pick the number 487, you should be able to achieve it). The idea is that from this initial list, you will start building your ideas around each of the items and go on from there.
#2: Draw It Out — Pull out your colored markers and put the problem in the center of the page in the form of a goal and start brainstorming potential solutions. So, for example, if your problem was a lack of sales generating avenues, you would put the goal “Increase Sales” in the center and start listing potential solutions (networking, advertising, special promotions, etc.). Now for every idea you generated, you need to add specifics. Who do you need to network with? Where do you need to advertise? What should you offer as a special promotion? Keep going until your random ideas become a concrete plan.
#3: Create an Outline — Force yourself to just start writing. Start with the basic structure of what it is you need to create. It doesn’t matter if your outline even has specific information. Sometimes when struggling with a writing assignment, my outline would consist of “Jazzy Title”, “Introduction”, “Paragraph 1”, “Paragraph 2”, “Paragraph 3”, and “Conclusion”. If it was a project for a client, usually the conclusion I was aiming for would be “Product is awesome” and so from there, I would work backwards to determine what my paragraphs needed to say to lead to that conclusion.
#4: Take a Brain Break — Give yourself a problem to think about and then go do something else, like go workout, have a coffee and read something, jump in the shower, go for a walk. Do whatever it is you need to do to shift your focus away from the problem. The idea is your brain will continue to process the problem in the background, but you need to ease up on it and let it do its thing. What usually happens is you will be in the middle of your workout, your coffee break, your shower, your walk, and you have a eureka moment!
#5: Talk It Out — Phone a friend and ask if you can enlist their ear in working through a problem. Obviously, you need to set the expectation that you aren’t necessarily asking for advice (unless you want it), but rather, you need a sounding board to bounce ideas off of. By explaining it to that other person, you may see that your problem isn’t as big of a problem as you thought. You will definitely benefit from an outside perspective and talking through your ideas instead of staring down a blank page feels less intimidating.