“Just Be Creative:” Prime the Pump; Boot the Block

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Priming the Creative Pump

Everyone is always talking about what a creative rock star you are, and it feels great when your ingenuity is showering over everything in your care. But when your mojo steps away, you feel like the comedian at a party who’s always expected to be funny. Sometimes you just can’t bring it. Here are some of the things our creative team does when we want to get our ideas unstuck and boot the (creative) block.

Do a search online for similar “award-winning” or “top 10” or “best of” projects.

Designing an annual report, writing copy for a conference program, kick-starting a promotion, or launching a campaign that calls out for our most creative DNA…we like to see what success looks like! Perusing top-flight examples of finished pieces that are relevant to the work we need to deliver gets us thinking. How can we come at our projects with more innovation and creativity? What color combos and fonts work well together; how can we set up our keynote speaker bios for best impact; what kinds of teasers can we consider to pull in donors or members? Seeing what the winners do by searching for finished pieces that were voted “best in class” by professional peer groups, publications and organizations show us amazing possibilities to get our brains storming.

Get out of that chair.

Sometimes we just need to change the walls around us, or remove them entirely! We get some exercise and let our minds work on the right creative approach while swimming, walking, running or working out; take a shower for some “creative lightning;” or achieve something unrelated to our work to get some thinking distance. Some great advice we keep in mind: “just be productive.” We try not to sit and stare at a blank screen – if nothing’s happening on our laptops and in our minds, we do something else (sign off on bills, clean out the car, have a quick 1:1 with an employee who needs a chat…) that needs to be accomplished so that we have a clear path when the ideas start coming in.

Pull together standard elements.

Gather the parts of your project that don’t require creativity: get the current list of your Board members, insert page numbers in a document, make an outline, look for photos you’ll need… don’t get stuck on the big creative issues so that you push off the smaller needs. If you can collect the things you’ll need for the rest of the project anyway, that will be time well spent and might give your mind a chance to relax enough to ramp up to rock star again.

Peer into our peers’ minds.

We’re all about the share, so one of the ways we get creatively pumped is to reach out to friends and colleagues for some guidance. Tapping into a creative who is outside of our own industry and not positioned competitively can bring a great benchmarking and innovation outcome!