Overcoming the Creative Rut
How to dig yourself out of a creative rut and tips to open your mind and stimulate great ideas.
I’m going to be real with you. Working from home had been killing my creative juices. It is frustrating because it can lead to a lot of self-doubt. One predominant advice is to get out of your workspace, unplug, and get a life… but that is complicated at the present time. That’s the great thing about coworking: when settling in an inspiring space you tend to get motivated, you have people around to bounce off ideas, you find opportunities to collaborate, and have fewer distractions. It definitely helps ideas kick in.
If you are a creative or an entrepreneur working remotely for the first time (or trying to get creative because of the circumstances), you feel me. You’ve experienced “the rut”. Part of the process of working remotely has been looking for sources of inspiration. I connected with one half of Seriously Creative, the awesome Angiemille Latorre, for some pointers and I thought I would share them with you!
Take a deep breath. Creative ruts are often related to being overtired and overloaded. So take a deep breath! Breathe in the positive, breathe out the negative. Prepare the right place and space so you can be in the mindset to brainstorm. Choose a comfy chair. Have everything you may need close by. (C’mon inner peace, we don’t have all day.)
Wake up early. After you wake up and get moving, you’ll find that the process of creation flows a bit easier in the mornings. Your mind is well-rested and ready to create. (Here’s an idea! Set up an alarm to the song that makes you get up and dance — but that you won’t end up hating afterward — currently love/hate Dua Lipa). Afternoons are better left to make decisions. Are you team Early Bird or Night Owl?
Natural Light: Set up your workstation in a space with natural light so you don’t feel boxed in.
Music: Put on some background music with no lyrics. Angiemille’s favorites include Fela Kuti and Plantas Falsas. I enjoy Spotify’s playlist French Jazz Café (it feels like I’m in the French Riviera and I don’t know a pinch of French), Jazz Morning, and FKJ. Try Piloto’s Remote First playlist for songs curated by the Piloto crew.
Diversity of Perspective
Find a coworker or person that you can connect with to bounce off ideas. Two heads think better than one, so ask for help. A new perspective will always be valuable.
Understand the conditions first:
What is the state of now? Figure out what you know and what you don’t know.
What are the chulerías (the features)? Research trends, find benchmarks, and what other people are doing. You are not cheating the process. It helps you find the qualities and details that you are looking for in your own brand or idea. Understand what works, the little things that you like that could transfer into yours (do not copy-paste!).
The Back-and-Forth (El pa’ trás y pa’ lante)
Brainstorming is more about connecting the dots. It will never be a full-on idea, but as you go through the process, you start building and developing an idea. As such, try not to edit yourself. Everything counts and at each step you start filtering yourself.
Get out your post-its! Here are some tools to help you out if you’re trying to come up with a new business idea:
Divergent to Convergent: Diverge (think creatively) and then converge (think critically). In layman’s terms, write down as many options as you can (everything goes! even the ridiculous) and then choose the best from the group.
Make a list of ideation keywords and questions that stand out and are important for you and your idea.
SCAMPER: If you are looking to improve on a product or service, use the SCAMPER method. The method refers to a series of thought sparkers or provocations which help you innovate on an existing product, service, or situation by looking through different lenses. The term ‘SCAMPER’ is an acronym for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, and Reverse. Explore more on the method here.
Figure out what you want people to feel by including the emotional side of it and the senses. What would you like people to say about your product, service, or brand after they leave?
THE FOUR I’s. When the criteria are not clear or are minimal, use the method of the Four I’s. After you’ve chosen the concept, you start to see patterns. Test it for:
- Importance: Is it important for my user?
- Impact: What impact will have on my user? Is it gonna get results?
- Influence: Do I have the influence to make it happen? Is it attainable?
- Innovation: Does it have a different angle? Is it something my user hasn’t tried before?
- If you are still unsure, add energy: Energy: Do I really feel like going there and investing? Do I have the resources to make it happen?
Transfer to a storyboard or wireframe and see how it works (such as Business Model Canvas).
Prove your theory by asking for feedback and even assembling a prototype.
Thank you Angiemille!
Do you have any tips that have helped you out when you are in a creative rut? Let’s hear it!