Creativity may seem to be a trait reserved for specific fields, such as marketing and advertising, but creative thinking and ideation are skills anyone can benefit from. At our Austin ad agency, we need to come up with a lot of ideas, every day, on a tight schedule. So we’ve picked up some habits that help us keep the sparks of brilliance flying. Here they are…
Curiosity is the source of all ideas. To get an idea, you first need to think about the idea you want to have, and then search the depths of your own mind or the world around you to get to the epiphany you need. You can get a seemingly spontaneous “eureka moment” – where the thoughts seem to strike your brain as though through divine intervention. But the more you think about what you’re trying to achieve, the more likely you are to be the lucky recipient of a sudden revelation.
So what are some ways to get more ideas flowing?
Seek Outside Stimuli
Books, TV, movies, magazine articles, podcasts, museum exhibitions, architecture – anything where you in some small way expand your understanding of human nature and the greater world around you – these are all potential sources of your next idea. If you just look at what other people in your field are doing, all your inspiration will lead you down the path of derivative.
Then Seek Very Few Stimuli
When it’s time to do the work, cut out everything that might pull you away from your thoughts. Get far away from Facebook. Get away from other people (unless they’re brainstorming with you.) Maybe you work well with music, that could be an exception.
To start brainstorming, don’t even be at the computer. The blank Word document is the least likely place inspiration will strike. Don’t sit down to write or sketch or digitally design anything until you already have some idea of what you are going to do.
Know What Works for You
As you always suspected, you are a special snowflake with your own little snowy predispositions that are not necessarily anything like ours. Even within our advertising and marketing agency, each member of the creative group has their own way of working. You might like to constantly bounce ideas off of other people. You may want to seclude yourself for extensive period of time. You may drink a pot of coffee every day, or fast for a week, or drop acid in the desert to get your best ideas. That is why you need to try out as many different styles of working as possible to find out what helps you reach your finest creative concepts. (Rock Candy Media does not condone the use of elicit substances… but, to each their own.)
One thing that we can all be tempted into is the illusion of work. It is an insidious and often hidden threat. There are certain tasks that create the appearance of progress in your project, but are actually just making you feel like progress is being made. Excess of research is a common one. It’s important to know whatever topic or target market you are dealing with. But at a certain point, you know enough to get started and more data and research will not necessarily be relevant or useful. After that point, more research has diminishing returns and really only serves as a way of making you feel like you’re making progress. Advertising competitions aren’t won by spending 99% of the time poring over analytics.
Having an idea requires zero technology, software, or equipment. Just start thinking. Do it now.