As much as we wish it could be, creativity is not a switch that can just be turned on.
Just like any other muscle in the body, your brain has to be trained on a regular basis to help it warm up and get the inspiration flowing. But as any creative professional will know, time isn’t always on our side, and there are times when ideas need to happen and happen quickly.
We can do a lot with creating new habits and an atmosphere that allows us to be more creative like we previously discussed in this post. However, it’s also beneficial to have a toolbox of practical tasks that can help ignite ideas when you’re on a tight deadline.
To help you become more creative and establish a routine that makes idea generation a less daunting task, we’ve shared eight practical ways that will have you creating your best ideas in no time.
Look at what’s been done
It may sound awful, but take a look at what other people have done in the sector or niche that you’re working in and find the ones that have been executed badly.
This will not only make you see the flaws in the idea, but it could give you the opportunity to create a better one.
If you’re creating a visual piece such as a website, infographic or interactive games, this is particularly useful, as you can view it in a far more critical way.
With everything you view, think about how you would make it better.
Become an investigator
There are times where you may be thrown into a niche that you know nothing about and have a very limited brief from a client, so it’s all on your shoulders to create something that’s going to wow them. Rather than run for the hills, put on your investigator hat and get ready to go all CSI.
Using a whiteboard and some sticky notes start researching everything there is to know about that client, its customers and the industry.
- What are the current trends?
- Is there anything in the news relevant to the industry?
- What are the competitors doing?
- What are the customer’s reasons for using the client?
- What are the biggest problems in the industry?
By diving deep into all the unknown and picking apart everything there is to know, your mind will quickly learn about what’s going on and will begin pinging with ideas.
Leave no stone unturned, and you will soon find inspiration.
This may sound like an obvious one, but you couldn’t be more wrong.
Google has a vast amount of tools available to creative professionals that can give great insights to help trigger ideas.
Tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends are just two you should ensure you have in your creativity toolbox.
Google Keyword Planner will let you type in a subject and find out what people are searching for around those terms as well as any related questions and queries.
Google Trends is an underestimated free tool that helps you to see what other topics are related to your subject. For example, you could type in ‘photoshop tutorial’, and it will come back to me with related queries, related topics, and whether that subject is growing in interest.
Pass the paper
Gather your team, some sheets of paper and a timer.
Each person has to write down one idea on the piece of paper within 30 seconds. They then have to fold down the paper to hide their idea and pass it onto the next person.
When you’ve done this for five rounds, you can end up with well over 50 ideas.
Together you can then sift through them and discuss each one individually.
This forced collaboration is great at getting all those not so genius ideas out of the way so that it opens up conversations for more developed ideas.
Tell a stranger
When you’re heavily involved in a project it can be difficult to step back with fresh eyes and see what’s missing.
Either by gathering a focus group of strangers or family members, tell them everything you know about the business you have to create an idea for.
Pitch it to them as if it was your business.
By doing this, the people uninvolved will ask questions and probe you about things that you’d perhaps forgotten about, or didn’t realise were important, leading you to have fresh ideas.
Get on Reddit
Forums and social platforms can provide a plethora of knowledge and opinions on so many topics. And none more so than Reddit.
Delve into topic-specific feeds or put up the drafts of your work to get honest feedback.
By listening to others and seeing things from their perspective, you will begin to see the areas you need to improve, or even be enlightened to go down another path.
It can feel like you’re showing your soul to the world, but as all creative professionals will know, sometimes you have to put it out there to be able to grow and improve your ideas.
Make a list of all the negatives
When campaigns are being created, it’s always to show-off what the client does and how well they do it. The USP’s for any business is always the easy thing to talk about, and the one thing that everyone in the office ends up knowing off by heart.
But what about the negatives or the areas the business needs to improve?
By writing these down and discussing them, it can actually help to find new angles and ideas that hadn’t been imagined before.
Go it alone and then come together
Most ideation sessions are either an individual or group task. But what about merging the two for maximum impact?
Brief everyone in your team what the mission is and what the outcome needs to be.
Then allow everyone to go off and do their own individual research for a morning.
Once the morning is up, bring the team together and share the ideas person by person.
This not only gives everyone an opportunity to gain inspiration in their own way, but it also ensures that each team member can contribute.
Rather than just one idea to solve a problem, you could end up with four or five!
Don’t let creativity get the better of you. Use these practical steps, and you’ll never be short of an idea or two.