Now a SlideShare presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/alexacker/getting-unstuck-a-primer
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Getting Unstuck: A Primer
In any situation where you need to create something, it’s just a matter of time until you get stuck. Here's a few ideas to help you get the creative process rolling again.
In any situation where you need to create something, it’s just a matter of time until you get stuck. From writers, musicians and artists to marketing directors and website designers, getting stuck is a normal part of the creation process—but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
When you get stuck, what do you typically do? Keep going down the stuck path or start over? It’s less icky to keep going on the path you’re already headed down because starting over means going back to the drawing board. Then you’re essentially nowhere, which never seems like a good plan, especially if there’s a deadline involved.
Starting over fresh and reworking your original assumptions from scratch would most likely yield the best results, but time constraints, creative hurdles or just plain not wanting to do all that extra work can make this an unsavory option.
In psychology, Sigmund Freud said that a mental block against recalling memories, events, or ideas is called resistance.* For any number of reasons, your brain is being resistant to opening itself up to new ideas that could potentially get you unstuck.
But you don’t have to remain stuck; here are a few ideas to help you get the creative process rolling again.
Get Some Space.
If it’s possible, walk away and do something else for an hour or a day (depending on your time constraints). Your mind works in mysterious ways and what’s a challenge one day is sometimes easily solved the next.
Get Another Perspective.
Ask a colleague, a friend, a spouse, or anyone else who is not connected to the project for an unbiased opinion. I remember once I text messaged ten friends and family members to ask them what their initial impressions of a specific brand were. The results were both surprising and helpful.
Go back and Review.
Review the original assumptions of what you’re working on. In the case of developing a marketing piece where you need a metaphor or visual hook to connect with end-user needs, go back to the original brief. You may pick up on something that wasn’t internalized during your development process that could now send your brain down a new conceptual avenue.
Do Impromptu Research.
Google is a great place to get inspiration from and to see what peers are doing in the same space. It can provide quick thought-starters to unlock an idea you hadn’t previously considered.
Grab some colleagues and lock yourself in the conference room for 30 minutes. Brief them on what the challenge is, show your progress, and encourage uncensored feedback.
When all else fails, just start over fresh. The key to success is to not consider your previous attempts a failure or a waste of time but the beginning for the new direction you’re headed now. It's a new opportunity for creating something even better.
These simple ideas can often give you the initial push you need to get unstuck. Sometimes it comes easy, and sometimes not, but it always eventually works itself out. What methods or approaches do you use to get yourself unstuck?
Learn more about the author, Alexander Acker.
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