Manar Al Hinai: Consider these tips to get the creative process to kick in

Managing a branding and marketing consultancy has its upsides. On the one hand, you get to work on exciting events, and you can see how you helped to create a brand identity for your client, or see how a press release you drafted attracted new customers to a retailer. It all sounds like a dream, with nothing but happy achievements and exciting events to attend, like how my friends imagine it. However, working in the creative field also has its downside, and that is when ideas stop knocking your door.

It happened to me more than once, especially when I had several projects to deliver at a time. I would sit there, in front of my laptop screen, and as the creative person that I am, I could not possibly think of one idea to pitch to my client. I would get frustrated. I admit that sometimes I would have the urge to cry, especially when I am on a deadline and I feel that the clock is ticking.

The thing with creativity is that it often works like a water tap. For weeks at a time, I would have never -ending flow of ideas. At others, it is like a dry spell. In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert discusses creativity, and how often it should be summoned with encouragement and praise, before it showers you with ideas. She states how whenever she is a stuck with a mental block, she dresses her best, puts on perfume when she normally does not, and creates the perfect welcoming atmosphere for creativity to kick in.

You do not really need to do that unless you want to. But I found that the following tips work well whenever you are faced with creativity blocks:

Consider the colour blue. A study in Science journal highlights how colours affect our mood. It revealed that people who had a blue computer background screen felt more relaxed and were able to develop ideas, versus people who worked in red rooms, which made them anxious. Ever since I changed my office space at home, to a calm blue colour, I do not face creativity blocks as much as I did. In fact, it takes me less time to work in that room than it did before.

Keep it light and happy. Our mood plays a huge role in our creativity flow. In her book, Gilbert also states how she was unable to write when she is unhappy or in a dark mood. Being in a cheerful mood is essential for her creativity process. Whenever you face a mental or creativity block, just leave your work for a while and go to watch a stand-up comedy show, or call that friend who makes you laugh.

Meditate, meditate and meditate. I could not stress how much this has helped me in my career. I prefer to do it first thing in the morning, to set my mood right for the rest of the day. Walt Disney was one of the first companies to realise the effect meditation had on their employees’ creativity. They noticed how there was an increase once they integrated meditation to their routine. Research by Greenberg, Reiner and Meiran revealed that people who do not meditate were more rigid when it came to creativity. They also applied old solutions to problems instead of new ones.

We also cannot overlook how food plays a huge role in this. Antioxidants in vitamin E and vitamin C foods such as spinach help to enhance creativity.

Opposites attract. Think outside the box. Marry off two concepts that have no relation whatsoever. Go crazy in your brainstorming session. A technique called Janusian Thinking discovered by Dr Albert Rothenberg, named after the Roman god Janus, involves holding two completely different ideas in your mind at the same time. This technique concluded that most scientific and artistic breakthroughs have been a result of two unrelated ideas.

Last but not least, be uncomfortable. That is right. If you are a writer, try drawing and if you are a graphic designer, then try writing for a change. Looking at your project from a different perspective can help to jump-start your creativity.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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