I’ve been getting pretty technical and more matter-of-fact with the last few posts, so I think now is a great time to talk about something that’s a bit lighter and more personable.
I don’t know about you, but my creative juices have been feeling a little bit zapped lately. Maybe it’s the weather changes we’ve been having, it could be the million other things going on in life right now, who knows! Even as we speak, I’ve been trying to piece together the words for this piece for the past few hours!
That’s what today’s post is going to be on, how to get the creative juices and momentum flowing again when they’ve stalled and you’re struggling to get back on track. There’s nothing wrong with this happening, and to me, it doesn’t make you any less of an entrepreneur. I know some people who are constantly cranking out ideas or concepts, but they just leave them sitting in a notebook, while some other people I know take the time to really cultivate, research and plan out a single idea that sits with them for a while and they take action on it. Regardless of which side you fall on, I really hope you take something away from this week’s post. The person with a million ideas may need a hand cultivating them into actionable items, and the person with the one idea may feel like they are getting stuck in a rut.
Here are a few ways I have personally used when I need to get the creative juices flowing again.
Write everything down that comes to mind when you think about your idea(s) or business. Even if it seems silly or irrelevant at the time, you never know what it could trigger in your brain or someone else’s. When I’ve been stuck for what to write (even though I’ve planned the topics for the blogs months in advance), I write down a few words on the topic I want to tackle on a piece of paper and then brainstorm or do research on what I’ve written down. If you need tips of brainstorming, see The Benefits of Brainstorming (And How To Do It Effectively).
Go for a walk outside for fresh air. For me, it gives me time to catch my breath, and once I return to my workspace, it feels like I am starting anew. If it’s as little as running out to get something from my car, running down the street for a coffee, or as long as going to run an errand in town, it is whatever I feel like I will need to recharge the batteries in order to generate some more ideas or momentum.
Temporarily change-up where you work from. Personally, I love to work out of coffee shops. I’ve got a few in the area that I like to go to work out of, where they don’t mind if I’m there for a bit (I always make a purchase and leave when it starts to pick up so other customers can have a seat). Something about the activity going on and the change of scenery really helps. Plus, when I am there I know I only have a specific amount of time in which to get my work done, which, for me spurs momentum and creativity.
Sleep on it. If I’m really stuck on something, or am searching for new ideas, I will either look at it or think about it again before I go to bed. I’m not sure on the exact psychology behind it (my twin brother who has an MSc in Psychology could probably explain it), but for me, my brain processes it while the rest of me is at rest. I generally always wake-up in the morning (or middle of the night) with either a new idea or a better grasp on how to work with a topic.
Do something you don’t normally do (i.e. tidying up or doing a brain game). Change is good because it helps to strengthen your brain. It helps to switch your brain to another activity so that it can process information (again, I’m not exact on the science behind it) I am a big movie and book junkie, but most times I will just watch a movie on TV or my computer instead of going to a theatre, and I normally read at home where I can immerse myself in the story for a long period of time. However, when I need a break and want to do something different, I will go see a movie (generally at one of our local independent theatres, not a Cineplex) or I will go to the library and read for a bit. You can also run an errand that you need to do, tidy up a room (parents generally encourage this!) or do one of the many brain games available online or on paper.
Talk it out. This ties in with writing everything down. I work by myself on this project, but I do have a few people I can turn to who will act as my sounding boards for ideas or topics. My Mom is the biggest one by far. Out of everyone, she knows me the best, including when I’m frustrated or fed up. Her and I also think a lot alike, so she understands where I am coming from with my thought process (or lack thereof). She’s unafraid to tell me if an idea is not going to work, what she knows on a topic or how she would build/approach it. She’s even done some research on the topic after I’ve mentioned it, especially if she’s not too familiar with it, but wants to help. If you have someone like that either on your team or in your life, utilize them.
Make a drawing of your idea. Don’t worry if you’re not an artistic person, I’m definitely not! That being said, I find it helps me to sometimes draw out what I picture my idea looking like, if it could be a real thing. When I first started Bay of Quinte Young Entrepreneurs, I planned on focusing it as a brick-and-mortar business (still in the works), and I was having a hard time grasping that concept or coming up with ideas for how to make that work. So what I did was I actually drafted up a floor plan of what I envisioned the space would look like, with everything from the workspaces/product development areas all the way up to my office and the bathrooms. It really helped me because that’s what started to make it feel real, and help me to visualise and think about how the ideas I had would work in that space.
Keep with it for as long as you can, but don’t beat a dead horse. If you are seriously struggling for ideas or motivation, sit on it for a period of time- a few hours, a few days or longer. I do that sometimes with my writing. I will often start the article for the topic I’ve chosen, but if I’ve been struggling to come up with the right message or approach, I will leave it for a bit, and use one or more of the techniques I’ve talked about above. If the topic just isn’t working for me that week, I will choose another topic to write about from the list I created a few months ago, and will continue researching or thinking about the previously chosen topic until it feels right to write about. If I keep trying to make it work even when it isn’t, I feel it’s counter-productive and a drain on my creative juices & momentum, plus it also can make me lose sight of why I am doing what I do and what I hope to achieve.
I hope this helps you with getting your creative juices and momentum flowing again! I know that by turning to something more light and personable, it has helped mine and reinvigorated me as well!
On a special note, today’s post is dedicated to my Grandma, Jessie May Tracey (nee Cross), who left us on December 4th, 2006. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and wish I could talk to her to get some inspiration or advice.