We all know the best creative ideas usually come when you’re not trying. You could be in the middle of a random conversation while necking your second pint down the pub, gazing half-asleep out a train window, or chatting a colleague through what you are working on whilst grabbing a cuppa when suddenly, inspiration strikes.
It’s during those uncalculated moments – those minutes of complete distraction – that the best ideas show themselves. Subconsciously prompted by…who knows what? It’s pretty incredible when you think about it.
But now, things are different.
The pubs are shut, getting on a train is not a welcome thought (was it ever?), and the only distraction when grabbing a quick cuppa is a big pile of washing up.
This, accompanied with the added pandemic pressures and the relentless torrent of video calls, makes me wonder if those those little gems – those ideas that hit the creative sweet spot – will ever show themselves again.
So what to do? Must we just wait and hope that life as we knew it resumes? And in the meantime, wistfully hark back to those brilliant ideas conceived on a bus and scribbled on a fag packet?
Not bloody likely.
No, instead we must do what great creatives do, and find new ways to track down those award-winning ideas. This crisis is far from over, so we need to find new ways to be inspired.
And let’s move on (as swiftly as possible please) from ad breaks, web pages and social feeds full of pictures of abandoned streets, home yoga, garden cricket or worst of all, rectangles filled with faces on a Zoom call. It’s time to find a new creative groove.
Here are a few ideas to populate your subconscious, keep you inspired and be the ones to find the next 50-carat gem of an idea:
Get second opinions.
Ok so you can’t just tap someone on the shoulder and get their opinion in the same way anymore, or wheel your chair over and quickly share whatever’s in your head. But you can hit call on one of the many platforms and share your ideas with anyone – you aren’t even limited to who is in the office anymore. Hell, you aren’t even limited to your office (NDAs aside). The only person stopping you getting a second opinion is yourself. So forget the old way of working, stop making excuses and make the damn video call. And yes make it a video call – facial reaction says a lot more than a vocal one.
So work has slowed down for a day or two. BRILLIANT. This is not a moment to put your feet up or run around panicking that your job is in jeopardy. This is the time to do something else; engage with your peers, think up a new solution for a client, make up your own brief. Reach out to other creators outside of your discipline – get inspired. Use this time wisely as we are too often knee-deep in work. This is the time to open your mind and look outside of your own computer screen, to create a bank of ideas that your future subconscious can draw from.
Step away from the screen.
Those with kids are forever surgically removing them from their screens, it’s time we creatives did the same. Read a book recommended by someone nothing like you. Drive to a new place and go for a walk to see what you might find. Teach yourself to knit. Take up drumming. Whatever, just do something that will take your mind elsewhere.
However if you really can’t bring yourself to step away from your screen then use it as a magic portal to go somewhere interesting – visit another country on Google maps, watch a documentary on something you know nothing about, look at an online exhibition – you get the idea: less social scrolling and more mind-expanding stuff.
Video calling seems to have cut out the small talk from meetings. Spontaneous humour is harder to achieve, and that feeling of camaraderie which makes it easier to approach one another can fizzle away. So bring it back. Why not give a colleague a call for no reason, yup out of the blue, no meeting invite. Just like you might interrupt them in the middle of the office to update them on the latest box set you have binged, or the latest rodent your cat dragged in. Keep sharing – you never know where it might lead.
Be a team
No, we can’t all go to the pub together anymore, or gather together around a ping-pong table. WHAT ON EARTH ARE WE GOING TO DO?! Well, that is the big question. So answer it. If a bunch of creative minds can’t think of a new way to socialise and collaborate effectively, who can? Stop making excuses and think of a way around the problem. It’s down to us to inspire each other, to feed our subconscious minds and dig out the golden nuggets we are all in this for.
In that sacred work downtime, think up ideas that bring your team together in new ways. Oh and here’s a recommendation – check out ‘Boss Bitch Fight’ on YouTube – those amazing women aren’t letting isolation get in the way of them kicking the crap out of each other, so there’s no reason to let it get the better of you.