Tips on How to Clear That Creative Block

Cover image from Innovation DemystifiedExercise, change your routine, drink the juice of 10 oranges: All proven methods that help knock us out of that rut where creativity seems to have abandoned us.

The tips were among many given by Richard Lawler (@StartInnovating), author of Innovation Demystified: Tapping In To Our Creative Core, at June’s Last Tuesday meet up in Dublin.

Unlike the majority of innovation articles that seem to focus on how organizational innovation can be spurred, Lawler’s book and talk focused on the individual and the changes they can make to spur personal creativity.

While diet and exercise might seem obvious, some of the tips were unusual. Lawler said drinking the juice of 10 oranges — freshly squeezed, not from a carton — will turbo-charge your mental processes.

Exercise is good, of course. But just wiggling your toes before you even get out of bed starts the neurons off right, Lawler said. And while office work enforces a sedentary lifestyle, there are exercises that can be done sitting in front of a screen, he said.

Changing environments is another tactic, he said. “In meetings, do you sit in the same place all the time?” he asked. Stepping up the challenge, Lawler then asked, “Could you find your way around the house with the lights off?”

Myths About Innovation

Lawler also debunked some myths around innovation in the workplace.

  • Creative people always have great ideas: This is not true. Some first drafts are horrible and demand much more effort to complete.
  • Constructive criticism from a colleague will improve my idea: Very often the opposite is the case.
  • I don’t need a notebook: This is an invaluable tool, Lawler said. “Ideas can jump in and jump out just as fast.”
  • Innovation comes in big breakthroughs: This is not always the case.

Removing Emotion

Two useful tips Lawler suggested for removing emotion from concept discussions were money and a pre-mortem.

Instead of seeing an implementation collapse amidst a flurry of blame and finger pointing, the team should hold a pre-mortem that assumes the project will fail. It may seem fatalistic, but it can uncover potential problems, Lawler said.

Another technique when comparing ideas is to split a €100 “investment” among them based on what return you think they could make. Although we may be more attached to one idea, the investment approach may help us determine which is more viable.

Image was taken from cover of Innovation Demystified by Richard Lawler.