How to Stimulate Ideas on a Deadline

March 04, 2013


We’ve all been there, a looming deadline and no creative ideas coming to help us reach the end. We feel uncomfortable, a little stressed and yet we are unable to put pen to paper. How do you deal with this and still make that deadline?

Here a few tips that I have picked up along the way from other artist friends, business books and my own past deadline experience.

step away from the project.

The longer you sit and look at the work in front of you the more frustrating it will become if you cannot come up with a solution. You need to go away from it, clear your head and then come back with a fresh, renewed sense of creativity.

go for a walk, a run, or do some yoga. By stimulating your brain in another way, it becomes clear once again for creating. In my design office days, I would grab one of my best friends and we would go for a long walk. Most of the time it was too cold to outside so we would walk underneath our building to the “inside” Starbucks, grab a drink and a quick snack and by the time we would get back to the office we would be fresh and ready to begin the tasks at hand. I now go for a walk in my neighborhood as it clears my head and allows space for new ideas to appear.
feed your brain.

In order to create, your brain needs fuel. Try eating and drinking something healthy to help provide you with a burst of energy- fruit juice, a small amount of protein like peanut butter, a handful of almonds or a piece of fruit can help stimulate your brain and give you the energy to make it through.
create in the morning.

Most books you read on creativity will tell you that the best time to create is first thing in the morning, as you are rested and most fresh at this time. In the Artists Way by Julia Cameron, she has her students start fresh each day with morning pages. They are a method of free writing that allows your stream of consciousness to get your creative juices flowing.

After you have taken a break, the deadline is obviously still there and needs tending. One way to reacquaint yourself with the project is to brainstorm ideas surrounding it. Take ten minutes, set a timer, begin thinking of ideas that would solve your problem. Do not be critical or discount any idea as you may find one holds the answer to help you complete the project.
work through the resistance. After brainstorming, bring yourself back to the project, take a deep breath and begin again. You may find a small amount of resistance still at hand but try and work through it. It is a freeing moment when you have worked through the resistance. For example, I recently took an painting class and got to a point in the painting where I did not like where the painting was going. I worked through all the steps and the resistance and found that what I created was  exactly where I wanted to be.

Creativity is a process. If you look at your work, you will see that the same pattern occurs each time you sit down to create. The same is true for stepping away during that process. Just remember you are not alone in this feeling. Reach out to other creatives, ask what they do to get through their projects when they feel they can’t produce. You may pick up some great tools to use the next time you have a deadline.

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