There are days when walking on a project you love the most could be tiring and boring. In those days, you may not find the inspirational flow to cook up, regurgitate and resize ideas into desired perspectives. It happens to everyone – from the fashion designer to the professional business executive; it occurs among high school students writing a term essay and among the high profile writers of proses and non-fiction. Well, they say, inspiration is like an angel. It greets you with pleasant ingenuity in the first moments and as you savour the sweetness of its nectar, it evaporates into thin air when your receptacle opens up in anticipation.
Regardless of your field of endeavour, you will find it necessary to know how to court ideas and make them valuable companions to guide your peaking journey in what you do. While it is important to court and lure ideas in the heydays of your project, it is what you do at the nadir of the project that matters – when the inspiration ceases and the ideas develop wings and fly away.
When it comes to ideas, forcing it out or spending more time on the task will never solve the problem but aggravate it. Mostly, engaging in an activity that is directly opposite to the task will help well. This sounds paradoxical but it is a working template for all those who handle creativity and ideation as part of their work description.
Here are five (5) recipes to guide you when the inspiration does not flow as usual.
Abandon the creative process: This is about an irrational thing to do when you consider how much thought you will need to give to a project to arrive at something reasonable. We are often encouraged to think deeply and thinking deep does not come with avoiding it. But one great thing you can do to yourself when you get stuck on ideas is to abandon the process and allow time to pass by before coming back to it. Well, abandoning may sound like a harsh word but you will truly need to avoid thinking about the project for a while so that your head can get cleared up for fresh ideas to initiate, germinate, flourish and get harvest within the shortest possible time.
Enjoy the moment of play and recreation: When you have successfully taken time away from the project (be it writing, thinking, creating, manufacturing. etc), it will be good enough to spend it wisely and on things that will encourage and strengthen your cognitive skills. This sort of thing may include recreational activities such as exercise or a relaxed activity like playing with friends, kids or your partner. Exercises may not include stressful ones. As such, taking a walk alone or with someone will go a long way in replenishing your vitality and initiative.
Slowdown when there is pressure: We are often faced with deadlines and expectations for certain tasks assigned to us. While deadlines keep us on our toes to accomplish tasks, they can apply some level of pressure that may coincide or trigger a dearth of inspiration. When there is crossfire between deadlines and lack of inspiration, the advice is to slow down rather than to increase pace. At the same time, I would not advise to flaunt deadlines but it is likely that an hour or two of inactivity on the project may not hurt too much. However, it would be fair on yourself and your supervisor to return to work on the project as soon as possible to enable timely conclusion of the task.
Do not find answers; ask questions and observe people, things: When we get stuck on ideas, one first temptation that you are likely to run into is to try finding answers to the puzzle. But the more you focus on finding answers, the more you get lost in the quantum of answers available to you. Of course, you may argue that answers only come when we ask questions or that no answer is gotten where there are no questions. But this is a matter of the mind – while asking questions makes you be patient and less anxious, finding answers makes you impatient and agitated thereby affecting your end creative product. When talking to people, discuss mostly about every other thing rather than the subject matter of your project. It is very likely that when you probe in that direction, answers begin to germinate towards the scope of your project. Some of the very best of great inspirations come from asking around us and observing common people and things we see everyday.
Dare to destroy the project: It takes great courage to completely abandon a project once you have set your goals and the process has long begun. I remember a number of times when I lost unsaved documents on my word processing software – just a few paragraphs – and I felt like the world was coming down. They were two to four paragraphs which took me a day or two to write and then, they were missing. I couldn’t imagine the energy and mind involved in going back to reproduce this ‘masterpiece’. Well, I did write those paragraphs again and I couldn’t thank the loss any better because my final piece was quite as quintessential or better at that. Sometimes, we may need to discard ideas that have held our creativity to ransom or probably discard the initial approach which doesn’t yield any positive fruits.
It is not only weird to think of taking these steps when you get stuck doing some creative thinking, it could equally be weird when you realise how much your project could change when you use these five nuggets. And wait a minute! You will need to know also that while it is important to pause when you are stuck, it is important not to stop when there is a flow otherwise you may lose the inspiration on your return after the pause.