Busting through a creative block

There are times when we all face a creative block.  We’re sitting in front of our computers like comatose zombies because we can’t type words on the screen.  And sometimes it’s even worse.  We’re ready to get going, but we feel like there’s no creative idea in our head to share.  So as we’re coming off a week of taking a blogging break, I thought it would be good to share some tips for breaking through your creative block.

 

Listen.  Blaine Hogan’s the Creative Director at Willow Creek Community Church.  Part of hiscreative process is to listen to what’s going on in his heart, community and the culture around him.  What is the story your community is trying to tell?  He says, “scratch when you don't itch” meaning capture everything. Listen to music, see movies, read blogs etc.  Scratching isn't stealing. You're taking your impression of what you observe to use another day when you create something new.

 

Use Paper.  I’ve heard multiple smart church communications people say to keep a journal of some sort where you can scribble down ideas or draw a picture.  Whenever you’re inspired take some notes so you don’t forget it.  I’ve done this with an actual Moleskine journal, but have also used iPhone apps to track ideas, too.  Charles Lee says collecting a bunch of small ideas can turn into something bigger.  Start with one idea. Work on it. Then you get other ideas. Ideas start connecting with each other. Then there's a divine moment where all the ideas, some seeming random, come together to make THE idea.

 

Change your venue.  I find one of the simplest things to do it take my laptop of my cube.  Move to a different part of the building you’re in.  Go outside.  Sit in a coffee shop.  I find it’s easier to get inspired when I’m not staring at the same cube walls all the time.  Plus I’m usually disrupted less.

 

Work Ahead.  When you feel creative, keep writing.  When you’re in a good rhythm, take advantage of it.  I remember before Church Juice officially launched online, I wrote a lot of evergreen material.  That way I had a bunch of content I could fall back on when I wasn’t feeling all that creative and needed to post something new.  I used those posts at random times for months.  Writing ahead also let you refine what you’re saying.  Jon Acuff, of Stuff Christians Like, writes months in advance giving plenty of time to edit and refine.

 

Don’t be afraid to write.  When the CEO of the most delicious fast food chain, Chick-fil-A, and marketing smart guy Seth Godin come together, great things happen.  Really.  During a Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conversation, CEO Dan Cathy asked Godin about getting ideas into print.  Godin said, “You never hear anyone get talkers block.  People say I have writers block.  The reason we get writers block is because we get afraid.    It’s that voice in your head that makes you change your clothes three times before the big meeting.  The one that tells you not to raise your hand at the end of the meeting with your boss.  The resistance is wile.  And it’s evil.  And it’s angry.  And it wants to hide.  So when we think about writing a memo or we think about communicating in any way that feels permanent, we hold back because we don’t want to be held responsible.  We don’t want to go out on a limb.”

 

He goes on to talk about refining how you write in the video below:

 

 

It’s okay to fail.  Not everything you do it going to be the best thing you’ve ever done, but you never know until you try.  Some of the simplest ideas I’ve had or stuff I didn’t think was all that great has had unexpected impact and response.  Almost every smart person I know doesn’t fear failure.


Just write.
  Lots of times when I’m feeling like I have writers block, the truth is I’m just distracted.  There is always some other task that’s easier or something else that grabs my attention.  There are times when good content would come out if I’d just start typing.

It’s tough when you’re working in a creative field.  You can’t rest once you’ve had a good idea.  There’s always another deadline or project on the horizon.  But finding a way to push through the tough times is important. 


How about you?  What do you do when you’re in a creative funk?

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