Creative block: How to get your ideas back

VisualFunk was recently invited for a 200 person conference program. After initial email contact, it was proving impossible to connect with the client so I knew no real detail about what they were looking for. Two weeks later, we connected very late one Thursday afternoon via email. The client gave me an indication of some conference themes, the WOW they wanted to see and an indication of a couple of ideas they liked so far.  As luck would have it, I was told the proposal had to be in by 11am the next day to be presented to the Leadership team. Fantastic. 

I started to think about ideas but I had nothing. It was late at the end of a super busy week and my 'ideas vault' was absolutely bare. Nothing WOW whatsoever. I knew we could provide the WOW but I had nothing. Mild panic.

So I decided to practice what I preach and take on board some of my own creativity advice. Get out and about and change your environment, open your eyes, take in some stimulus and see what happens.

My solution: I live in a beachside town so there are loads of interesting gift shops and funky cafes so plenty of interesting things to look at. Up early the next day, I walked around all the shop windows observing and writing down all the interesting things that I saw. When I really, really looked, there was a huge amount of variety: colours, textures, photos, sculptures, fabric and quirky sayings on gift cards. As I started to write down everything that I saw, ideas started to come. As I looked and wrote more things down, some loose thought patterns began to connect. More ideas started to jump into the 'ideas vault'.

I parked myself in a cafe about 45 minutes later with a huge list of words, ideas and themes. Two hours later, my proposal was sent off to the client.

The great news is that we won the event with an idea that the client absolutely loved and that hadn't existed the evening before. All I did was what architects, fashion designers, marketers, chefs, engineers and artists do the world over: I changed my environment and sought inspiration. In this situation, the approach worked a treat.

Next time you’re  stuck, get out and go for a walk – really look around and see what happens. What have you go to lose?

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