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Tips for Overcoming Creative Block

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Writer’s block, brain freeze, lacking inspiration or motivation – whatever you call it, all of us, even in creative industries, have experienced the daunting feeling of not knowing what to write next. This is especially pertinent now since we’re all spending a lot more time at home without much opportunity to meet with different people and visit new places, both of which are usually excellent fodder for creativity.

Whether working on a strategy or writing thought leadership, our roles at a B2B PR agency require creativity. One of our team’s core values is a quote from Henri Matisse: ‘creativity takes courage,’ and we take that to heart. Our weekly brainstorms, for instance, begin with a warm-up to help melt away brain freeze so that we can be at our most creative. Here are some tips, resources and sources of inspiration that we at TopLine have turned to over the past month.

Inspirational suggestions to read, watch, and listen to

If you’re stuck creatively, the answer may be reading. In the words of Matthew Dicks ‘Read more. It allows you to borrow someone else’s brain and will make you more interesting at a dinner party.’ Reading – even content on another topic – is also a great way to find new angles, phrases, and expression.

The team recommends The New Yorker magazine for brilliant, incisive writing and perspective, and the roundup newsletter is a great way to get a weekly dose of inspiration. We’re also big fans of Medium, another excellent source for in-depth opinion. At the moment, we’re paying attention to Nir Eyal – an expert on becoming ‘indistractable’.

If you’re looking for something to watch to spark creativity, the obvious choice is a TED talk. There is no better way to delve deep into insight and perspective on a range of interesting and relevant issues. We particularly enjoy science, innovation, and communication talk tracks.

The Dots is another network with many great (virtual) talks, events, courses, and meet-ups that cater to a wide range of professional interests. Their projects section reveals the story behind some of the boldest campaigns out there, and it’s well worth a visit if you’re stuck in the creative doldrums.

There is also great inspiration available in WeTransfer’s stories of all sorts of creative endeavours on WePresent. Similarly, Motionographer offers an array of insightful and idea-filled clips, highlighting the best that the video industry has to offer.

For aural inspiration, we turn to the FT Culture Call podcast, which covers the zeitgeist, trends and interviews from both sides of the pond. It’s a fantastic way to get up to speed on the latest film, book or theatre reviews, and usually leaves us feeling enthused.

How to overcome creative block

The team here at our B2B PR agency does a lot of creative work, and we all have our strategies for getting over blocks.

One common strategy is to step away from the computer and occupy yourself with something else. Our senior producer, Sian Evans, recommends listening to some music to help you relax and then seeing how things flow when you start again. Digital Strategist Tom Pallot advises stepping away for a few minutes to get some fresh air. Comms Consultant Bronwen Dowman recommends taking on a practical task – she prefers upcycling – to stimulate a different kind of concentration.

Rob Hart, our head copywriter, offers a classic writer’s trick: don’t always start at the beginning of the project you’re working on. If you feel more confident about a particular section, start there – and the rest will follow. Jack Kelleher, a junior copywriter, adds that if you’re really stuck ordering your thoughts, you should try talking the ideas out with another person. He says that often the task of articulating the ideas to someone else helps you understand what’s most important.

Katy Bloomfield is the Head of Client Relations at TopLine Comms.

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