Imagine this scene: You’re given a large project that requires some out of the box thinking. Normally this is your bread and butter, so you are over the moon with excitement. Then you sit down to start work on the project and…nothing. You can’t think of a single creative solution to the project. Then your mind goes blank. Then you start to panic and the possibility of any creativity goes out the window. What do you do?
First, take a breath. This happens to the best of us and it’s OK to have moments when you suffer from a creative mental block. Next, know that there are several things you can do to reboot your creativity. Try one or several of these and get back on track.
Step away from the situation. Sometimes we have a hard time finding a creative solution because we’re too mired in the problem. When you find yourself getting frustrated, remove yourself from the problem. Go get lunch. Take a walk around the block. Grab a cup of coffee. Do something to get your head unstuck from the problem. When you come back, chances are you’ll be able to look at it with newfound perspective.
Write or talk out the problem. All too often we try and keep the entire creative process in our head. When you get stuck on a problem, sometimes it helps to write out the problem from all aspects. If you don’t feel like writing, call on a peer to listen and ask questions while you tell them about the problem. Oftentimes something will strike you that you hadn’t noticed before and you can use that to begin solving the problem.
Free write solutions. When we get flustered at our lack of creative solutions, we just start shooting down every idea our brain produces, whether it’s good or not. When I get a mental block, I like to do what I call a “brain dump.” I get a piece of paper and write down any possible solutions that come to my mind as they come into it. It doesn’t matter if the ideas are irrational or impractical, I don’t judge them, I just keep writing. Typically it’s best to set a time for doing this. Say, free write for 30 minutes, then go back and look at your ideas. Frequently there are one or two that are good if they are modified slightly.
How do you overcome a creative mental block?