September 2, 2011 ↘︎

What to do when inspiration doesn’t strike

I’ve just had one of those days. Actually, make it one of those weeks. Concentration has been very hard to come by which is not helpful when you are on a short deadline. That loads on the pressure and then it’s even harder to find the way to flick the switch.

That’s always a threat when you are a thinker and a doer. How do you get yourself into the thinking zone when you’ve been in production mode? There is a lot of creative help out there from some of the industries best thinkers who share their expertise with us – 99% has some great advice on how to get more focus. But sometimes even those insights can’t give you the outlet you need. Do you give up on the day? But what if you’ve got a pressing deadline which is demanding you think about it right now or else?!

Top re-zoning tips:

  • First up I think the 9-5, Monday-Friday mentality is not always helpful when you are working on a thinking piece. Your brain would be a pretty uninspiring place if you only used it for work purposes between the hours of 9 and 5. When your brain is given the chance to relax and take in new things you’ll often find it ends up thinking about something you are already working on but maybe framing it in a new way. If that happens at the weekend or in the evening, let it.
  • Think about the parts of the project or piece that made you fall in love with it the first time round – what captured your attention and started the wheels turning? Why were you so sure this was the right way to start thinking in the first place? Trace back your original thoughts and see if you can see the same opportunities again. Get away from your desk. Take a piece of paper and a pen and go scribble instead. Mind map, illustrate, play word games, whatever it is that fires your brain cells back up. Try and re-scope thinking in the clear zone (your piece of paper) before you go back to your desk and risk distraction.
  • Read. Find inspiration from other people. Sometimes you need to find inspiration in a completely different area as a way to access your own thinking again. There are a few blogs I regularly go to for this kind of “open” thinking. Mark Pollard is probably my favourite. The idea is to make your reading about another subject entirely but choose someone who perhaps inspires you to be better at your job. Something that takes the pressure off the immediate but keeps you connected to your purpose.
  • Talk to someone about it. Sometimes talking about what you’re stuck on can help to unblock it. Other people who aren’t as deeply entrenched in the piece (or panicking) as you are can often see things more clearly.
  • Sigh. Some days you are too much into the production zone and you just can’t escape. Give up until tomorrow. Sleep on it and try not to panic think, you’ll end up coming up with something which you’re not proud of. Inspiration strikes at the most random times and sometimes you have to trust that side of your brain to naturally filter it to the top and then be ready!
  • Tackle it first up next day even if just for an hour but give it another crack before the emails start to creep in or the production meeting is about to take place and you must check where that design job is……

Which is why I am trying not to panic about my pressing deadline for a presentation which I can’t reconnect with at the moment. So I’ll sleep on it and hope my dreams will leave me feeling a little more creative.

The content and advice contained in this post may be out of date. Last updated on September 2, 2011.
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