I have to challenge myself each week with what I can share with others that might add value as a creative. Often when trying to brainstorm ideas I get stuck. In those times of frustration, finding creative ideas can be difficult. Creative blocks in developing new ideas affect all artists at some point. Day-to-day stress often results in feeling overwhelmed. Creative brainstorming when you’re stuck sometimes requires a little downtime. Here are six tips that might help in finding creative ideas when you’re stuck!
My mind is usually a landfill of thoughts, sometimes keeping me up at night with creative ideas racing through my head in excitement…AKA the hamster running on the wheel! When the ideas stop and I get stuck it leaves me feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. That stress often blocks my ability to move forward because I get caught up in my head. When I get off balance and become stuck I have to find a creative solution that will allow my mind to think freely again. If you have ever struggled with being stuck, here are six things I do that may help, so read on!
Creative Brainstorming Using Mind-Mapping Tools
One of the easiest ways I have found to generate ideas especially when I am stuck is through idea linking and wordplay. It is basically creating a visual diagram, (idea map) of connected ideas through a hierarchy of those connections (mind mapping). In those times when I am having a hard time finding creative ideas, I use this method to brainstorm and get organized. I do this in one of two ways, the first is by hand using paper and a pen or a tablet.
Starting with a single idea, word, or phrase, I add linked words as they come to mind while trying to make it fun and spontaneous. For example, if the first word is dog, I branch out to any word or phrase that comes to mind. Dog > toy, bed, play, etc. I then do the same with each secondary word and repeat the process. TOY > squeaky, bone, rope, and so on. Below I share the process using The Creative Push as an example, going through the exercise of brainstorming ideas for this blog channel.
Another way to help you in finding creative ideas, especially if your handwriting is terrible like mine, is by using a mind-mapping application like Gitmind or Mindomo. It is the same concept as paper and pen except you are typing the ideas out and linking them around each word, theme, or goal using an app. This also allows you to share, save and print out your thoughts. Using wordplay will get your creative juices flowing and help you discover combinations of things you might not have thought of before.
Below I have outlined the many ways you can customize your own mind maps using Mindomo. Check it out and see if it might help with your own brainstorming ideas.
While these brainstorming, mind-mapping, and idea-linking techniques work most of the time in finding creative ideas, there are other variables that may really block you from being able to think clearly. In those times when you feel overwhelmed and frustrated with a lack of creativity it might be best to take a look at what is going on in your life and with your health. Sometimes the way we treat ourselves or what is happening in our world is the biggest cause for being stuck. Below are some more things to consider during those times when you lack creative vibes.
Relax, Get Outside, Or Go Somewhere
Getting outside in fresh air, especially in nature, is the best medicine for almost anyone needing a reboot to clear the mind. Sometimes you need to take some downtime to allow your worries, work, or health issues to soften. Slowing down and relaxing can allow creative thoughts the ability to re-surface. When you are having a difficult time finding creative ideas, stress is likely the main cause of a lack of the ability to generate creative ideas.
If you have ever had to work on a deadline as a creator, just the stress of having a time limit can inhibit your creative thinking. Give yourself a peaceful break and it may offer you some solace to clear whatever block you may be experiencing. Ride your bike, take a drive in the country, go for a walk, take a bath, or lay in a hammock. Do something that allows you the time to slow down and relax. Be sure there are no stressful triggers that might keep you from enjoying your time away.
In the summer I take one day a week off to do something that allows my mind and body to relax, usually, it is on the water, out in nature, or in my backyard. Many people swear that yoga helps, so choose what works best for you. The point is to get away from all of the noise and allow the mind to relax and wander. The fresh air, the smell of flowers, or even the wind rustling through the trees can offer something peaceful to ponder. Take a drive outside of the city or sit by a campfire with friends. Relaxation also includes getting good sleep, a proven need for all of us to be more mentally productive.
Explore Something New
Changing your mindset and learning or exploring something new is a great way to get creative ideas flowing. The process of trying something new often refreshes our thoughts in a way that inspires ideas that may have been blocked. Our minds enjoy learning and thinking about what inspires us. Take time to research new techniques and look at the work of other artists that you admire. I personally believe when we shut down and can not think clearly, it is a subconscious coping mechanism our body uses to try and keep us calm and safe. Learning something new can spark all kinds of thoughts and allow your mind to open up to new creative ideas!
Move Your Body
Working out, doing yard work, or taking a walk can help when there is a need to release some energy and rejuvenate blood flow. Anger, frustration, and stress cause us to tense up both physically and mentally. Exercising and moving our bodies can release that pent-up energy allowing us to feel refreshed.
A study at the Journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience shows that participants that exercised regurlary seemed to do better on creatiivity tests than those who didn’t. It suggest that “More exercise may enhance convergent thinking, at least in individuals with a higher degree of physical fitness. It would also be important to include other physiological measures such as volumes of oxygen to further investigate the neural mechanism by which exercise may affect creativity.”
Find your own way to release some pent-up energy from the stress of life and you may find your thinking pattern changes. That alone might be the key to getting your creative juices flowing and helping you to in finding creative ideas!
Eat Healthier Foods
Diet is something we are constantly reminded of everywhere we go. Because we have different beliefs around food, choosing a diet that fits you personally requires some exploring. Eating healthy requires our own experimentation based on how we actually feel internally. The stress from trying to be vegan when you enjoy meat could mentally counterbalance any benefit of not eating meat. It is well documented that there are mental benefits to eating vegan, vegetarian, organic, low sugar, and low carb.
I base my diet on being mindful of the food I put into my body and the relationship between how it makes me feel later. While I enjoy splurging from time to time, I don’t feel as good when I include too much sugar or carbs over a balance of fresh veggies and lean meats. I also find I have more anxiety and inflammation which creates stress. Choosing a healthy diet can make you feel better internally, balance fatigue, and allow you to think more clearly. Feeling good has a direct correlation to thinking clearer and that will also help in finding creative ideas.
Laugh And Do Something Fun
My final go-to for revitalizing clear thinking when I am stuck as an artist is to laugh and have fun. Laughing is a great way to relax the body and clear your mind from stress. When I experience laughter while doing things I enjoy I feel as if I am bulletproof. The endorphins of having fun and laughing simply make the body feel good. Having fun and laughing is a great way to reboot and release stress, offering some space for revised creative thinking.
Being stuck creatively is frustrating but these things do help me when I am experiencing a block. Most of the time the issue goes away by being patient and kind to my body. When I feel better on the inside inspiration always seems to come easier. Finding creative ideas is the key to being a better creator. Alleviating stress and creating a calm space to think can really evoke excitement and thoughtful exploration.
I hope the next time you get stuck these things will help offer something new that you can use when you are struggling. Be sure to be kind to yourself and take the time you need to get back into a healthy creative flow. What do you do to overcome blocks in creativity when you get stuck? Have any of these things helped? I would love to hear from you!
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