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Finding Inspiration: 4 Ways to Break Through a Creative Slump

Finding Inspiration: 4 Ways to Break Through a Creative Slump
Credit: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock

Authors call it "writer's block," but regardless of your profession, the problem is the same. You're trying to get inspired, but you just feel as if you're hitting a mental brick wall.

When your job requires constant creativity and innovation, a lull in creative thinking can mean lower productivity, work quality and output — a dangerous combination for professionals faced with tight deadlines from their bosses and clients. This external pressure may only worsen the situation, and lead to a vicious cycle of creative roadblocks.

You might not be able to avoid these slumps entirely, but there are things you can do to recharge your brain more quickly. Business leaders shared their tips for breaking through inspirational walls and jumpstarting your creativity. [What's Your Most Productive Work Time? How to Find Out]

The verdict may still be out on the health effects of sitting at a desk all day, but one thing is certain: Remaining in the same exact spot for 8 or more hours per day can really stifle your creativity. If you're feeling stuck, try a change of scenery.

"Creatives often need to physically move around, change spaces and divert their minds from the immediate task to help stimulate creative thought," said Bert Stouffer, vice president of production at Trepoint digital marketing firm. "We have six distinct spaces within our office that creatives can move in and out of depending on their moods. In addition to their work stations and traditional conference rooms, we've created a bar area, a lounge area with soft furniture, a recreation area, and an outdoor roof space that includes a covered picnic table."

If your office doesn't have alternative work stations, try to get away to a coffee shop or other outside workspace. Even a quick walk around the block or parking lot of your office can have a similar effect.

Jeffrey Bowman, CEO and founder of business acceleration platform REFRAME, said his creative slumps happen when he doesn't fully understand the problem a client wants him and his team to solve. This likely sounds familiar to many creative professionals, as it's difficult to come up with a solution for something you don't fully comprehend.

"I think sometimes it's the energy present in the room while we are discussing the problem," Bowman said. "I usually work through the creative block by asking a series of questions. I'm always looking for that 'aha' moment."

When you're looking too closely at project or problem, you can't see the bigger picture necessary to help you accomplish or solve it. Gerry David, CEO of healthy lifestyle company Celsius Holdings, calls this "working in a bubble" syndrome—if you're too consumed in your own (or your company's) ideas, your creativeability is constrained.

"Sometimes it's helpful [for creative professionals] to take a step back and immerse themselves in the consumer's world," David told Business News Daily. "It helps to reconnect with who they are communicating to, whether that be visual or in written forms of communication. They can even do a self-assessment on their most recent projects and determine how they may have been able to communicate their message better. It's all a matter of taking a few steps back to see things clearer."

Repetition of the same tasks day in, day out often leads to drudgery. Attending a conference, signing up for a skill-building workshop or tackling a new type of project can give you the fresh perspective needed to replenish creativity.

"It's hard to deliver high-quality creative if [you] are burnt out," Stouffer said. "Look for opportunities to ... do some professional development at conferences, or work on a different type of project to get new experiences."

But don't pursue an opportunity just for the sake of it — make sure you're really excited about the event or project you're getting involved with.

"The best creative thinking just does not come from your thoughts, but from your heart, too," David said. "You must be truly passionate about your role if you want to provide the most meaningful creative work."

Nicole Fallon

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. Nicole served as the site's managing editor until January 2018, and briefly ran Business.com's copy and production team. Follow her on Twitter.