“Creativity is a fairly delicate thing,” observes Jake Sorofman, research analyst, Gartner.
“Exercise the muscle too much and it seizes. Exercise it too little and it atrophies. A week doing exactly nothing may soothe the soul, but it has a certain cognitive consequence.”
Of course, it’s by no means a permanent condition, qualifies Sorofman.
“All muscles have memory and all you have to do is remind them how to behave, to provoke them back into their familiar patterns,” he adds. “This is neither my first rodeo nor my first (or last) bout of vacation brain.”
No rocket science here, but Sorotman offers 10 road-tested tips for how to get your creative mojo back:
1. Read something great—get your motor started by reading the work of someone firing on all cylinders. It will remind you what great looks, feels and sounds like and may inspire you to reach further.
2. Watch a TED Talk—find inspiration in someone else’s passion. Something about a great story told well with a strong point of view tends to motivate you to go create your own.
3. Phone a friend—I’m always amazed by the stimulating properties of a high-bandwidth conversation with a likeminded (or constructively contrary) friend or colleague.
Few tactics work better for getting unblocked. A 15-minute conversation can prevent half a day of wheel-spinning.
4. Make a list—mild stress can give you an edge, but in larger doses, it can crater creativity. Make a list of everything you need to do—later. Think of it as a cognitive offload to ease your mind.
5. Look outside your domain—a shortcut to original thinking is taking known ideas and applying them to a new context.
Your first-order world can easily become an echo chamber of tired ideas. Look at someone else’s world for inspiration. Repurpose, don’t recycle.
6. Create a hybrid—another shortcut to creativity is smashing together two dissimilar things. Sometimes this results in an amphibious car, but other times it yields something the world actually wants.
7. Flip your thinking—take the conventional view and turn it on its ear. Literally flip it. Taking the diametrical position can create inspired thinking.
Open source gives away the core assets. Inbound marketing invites qualified leads. What’s on the other side of your conventional idea?
8. Create garbage—sometimes you need to create complete, utter garbage to find the gems. While it can be agonising to endure, allow yourself the freedom to produce trash.
Often, the very act of creating—the mechanics of the process—reminds you how to produce something great.
9. Wake up early—or stay up late. Listen to your biorhythms and find the times that inspire your best thinking. For example, I can write at any hour but it’s at least twice as easy and fun before dawn.
10. Go to sleep—on a related note, allow you creativity to happen in your dream state. It may sound new age-y or high minded, but letting go is often the best way to get your mojo back.
Simply create the right conditions for your inspiration to return, which is the point of each of these tips.