Why Creativity Blocks Happen (and How to Overcome Them) – by Iris Shoor
Is creativity something people are just born with? For many of us, creative thinking isn’t purely intuitive—it’s also plain hard work. As writer Iris Shoor explains, coming up with fresh ideas isn’t always a natural gift—it’s a skill that can be learned.
A few days ago I was telling someone about my startup company. “How did you come up with the idea?” he asked, and added very nicely, “you must be very creative.” This line always makes me smile, as I believe being creative is not a natural gift. Every day I try not to think outside the box, but rather work hard on trying to live outside of it. I believe that creativity can be taught, and I know for a fact that I’ve become more creative over time. It’s not about finding the ‘one’ idea, but rather about using creativity to achieve everyday personal and professional goals. I use creative thinking to sell my product and ideas to people, design better, and even to overcome personal obstacles, going outside my comfort zone.
Here are some methodologies I use to come up with fresh ideas.
Changing one part of an idea at a time
The biggest creativity challenge we face is that while we want to innovate and change, our brain actually prefers to stick with what it knows. Whether it’s a first draft or a five year old plan—once an idea has taken root it’s very difficult to think of another. Once we have a new look for the office in mind, a presentation flow or a web site design, it’s almost impossible to get it out. Try to think for a minute or two of a new design for Google.com. Hmmm…almost impossible!
A powerful tactic to overcome this is taking a project and breaking it down into smaller pieces. Once you stop looking at your project as a whole, things don’t look as obvious as they were before. Write down a list of all the elements in your current project—presentation topics, blog post paragraphs, web site elements, and more. Then focus on one part at a time and change just that one. The most interesting thing about this tactic is that just dividing a project into a discrete list of elements will help ideas to start flowing. Once you have your list you can do wonders with it. Here are a few quick examples:
- Focusing on one part and changing it completely.
- Removing a part.
- Combining random parts.
Use this tactic when working on my product designs, marketing strategy and presentations. Here’s a fun example of how it’s done:
We always find info on how to overcome blocks fascinating. Maybe because we’re always feeling blocked. Other opinions may vary…like that of my ex, who used to scream, “If you were really a writer you’d goddamn write instead of just bitching about writing all the time!”
Know why I can’t get myself to write? I think it’s because I’m too busy thinking, “What if she’s right?” Even though we aren’t together anymore the enemy stays in my head…