You know the feeling: you're trying to figure out how to tackle a tricky situation or solve a problem, but you can't seem to make any headway. The longer you spend thinking about it and trying to come up with ideas, the more you seem to come up against a brick wall.
How do you get unstuck and start generating ideas? How do you turn on the tap to get your creative juices flowing? Is there such a thing as creativity on demand?
The creative process can't be forced, but it can be nudged.
Trying to force creativity can backfire, as the creative process can't be forced or strong-armed into making an appearance. What does work is fostering the right conditions that will awaken your inner creative process and gently nudge it into action. This is how you get to a place where the ideas start to flow more easily, even effortlessly at times.
Often when you're finding it hard to generate fresh ideas, it's because your mind is stuck on one track. You feel like you're going around in circles, because you keep reviewing the same concepts over and over again. You're essentially caught in a mental thought loop that you can't seem to escape from, and it feels as if fresh ideas are nowhere to be found.
Shift your attention to something else for a while.
Shifting your attention to something else for a while can help you get unstuck, by breaking this thought loop. When you change what you're doing outwardly, you also change what's going on mentally.
This internal shake-up clears the way for new ideas to flow. By the time you get back to tackling the original situation or trying to solve the original problem, you're operating from a different headspace. You're thinking about things differently, and a different thought process allows different ideas to emerge.
Instead of going around in circles, you can approach things with a fresh outlook and move forward in a new direction.
Branch out with a mind map.
A mind map is an excellent tool for sparking creativity and generating new ideas, because it's designed to get you branching out in multiple directions. You start by writing down a central idea as your starting point in the middle of a blank page, and then branch out from that idea by writing down related ideas, thoughts, or words.
There's no right or wrong when you're creating a mind map. You simply write down whatever comes to mind, building on each idea by continuing to write down related ideas. One branch may end quickly, while another may extend with many offshoots. As you repeat the process, you're ultimately left with multiple branches offering a variety of ideas to explore and play around with.
The beauty of mind mapping is that it encourages you to explore a variety of different directions, as you keep going to see where things lead. This increases the likelihood you'll make novel connections and discover fresh ideas you wouldn't have arrived at otherwise.
Many people find this to be a fun format that's easier and more enjoyable to work with, compared to writing a list in a traditional linear fashion.
Draw things out with some doodling.
It can be frustrating to feel like you're ruminating over things endlessly but getting nowhere. Give yourself a break — and give your creativity a boost — by getting out of your head. Sometimes, the best way to draw out fresh ideas is to literally draw, so get out some paper and start doodling.
Engaging your hand to physically draw enhances the thinking process, as you're providing an additional pathway for ideas to emerge and take shape. The shift in focus from words to images, even if they're just free-form doodles and squiggles, can shift you into a more relaxed, creative frame of mind.
Conclusion: everyone has the ability to generate fresh ideas, the key is creating the right conditions that provide space for those ideas to emerge freely.
Tips for achieving optimal wellness, inside and out.