Even the best of us digital creatives can find ourselves in a bit of a blue screen slump. Digital marketing is a hive for new trends, concepts and strategies that develop overnight. There’s inspiration and innovation everywhere. Despite this, at times, we all experience phases where we lose our momentum. There are moments when we’re sitting at our desks scratching our heads and wondering where to go next. Mental blocks can be frustrating and occur during the most inopportune times, but even great artists have them. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Claude Monet, William Blake and Pablo Picasso all experienced creative blocks themselves, and they’ve created some of the most famous works in history.
Creative thinking is involved in all aspects of a digital agency – not just design, writing, or videography. Strategists and account managers need to be creative, and developers often need to envision how their code will come together. For all roles within a marketing agency, losing steam can be incredibly frustrating.
If you’re feeling the creative drain, don’t worry! Hit the escape button on whatever you’re working on (after saving, of course). Your creativity has not left you. In fact, it’s just a passing phase. We’ve got a number of strategies to help you feel more inspired and refreshed.
Why have you lost your creative inspiration?
There are many influences that can inhibit our creativity, both internal and external. Stress is a huge factor. We’re often working towards tight deadlines and constrained within tight budgets. Not to mention, digital projects require us to use a lot of strategy, analysis of data, and attention to aesthetics. It’s enough to give anyone a headache. It’s a stressful job, and stress is not good for us. In a 2016 survey, 75% of Australians revealed that stress negatively affected their mental health, and 64% indicated that stress affected their mental health.
Then there’s the external factors. Personal matters can distract us, hindering our creative thought process. Dealing with a mountain of bills or errands to run can occupy our thoughts, taking time away from creative projects. In a perfect world you could work around this type of distraction, but we understand this isn’t the case. So, to help you rewire your brain, we’ve compiled some tips to help get you in the right mindset to be creative.
How to boost creativity amid overwhelm
Check your environment!
If you’re freelancing from home, you might feel like you’re getting a case of cabin fever. Try relocating to a cafe or sitting outside some days, or give your local library a go. Perhaps you just need a little activity around you, or a change of scenery. However, if peace and quiet is in fact what you’re searching for, there are shared work spaces that you can rent temporarily.
Check your health!
Sometimes amid all the busyness we forget to look after ourselves. Screen time affects us more than we think. The average Australian spends about 7 hours a day on their smartphone, laptop or computer – and that doesn’t factor those in digital roles. Already there are a number of health initiatives in place to educate young people and adults on the negative effects of screen time, which include headaches, poor posture, deteriorating eyesight, weight gain and poor reflexes. So, make sure you’re eating well, getting some exercise, and most importantly, getting enough sleep and downtime from the screen.
Check your brain!
General tips to stimulate creativity in the brain
- Make something creative everyday. This is exercise for your brain. Your creation doesn’t have to be big, and it certainly doesn’t have to be perfect. Just put some pen to paper – or whatever your preferred medium may be – and create. Don’t correct yourself and don’t think too much about it. Whatever you make is only for your eyes. Unless it’s really good, then of course, show everyone.
- Talk to someone you consider a mentor. It may be your boss, a senior colleague, or a good friend. It’s really important to admit if you’re struggling and to ask for help and advice. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single experienced worker in digital who hasn’t felt what you’re currently feeling. Most would be all too happy to share their advice and life experiences. Just shout them a coffee when you meet up as a thanks.
- Calm your mind through meditation. Ok, this one’s a little left of field, but meditation has been proven to boost creativity. Don’t feel like you need to sit on a mountian-top and hum to do this. But you do need to stop doing stuff for a moment. Among relieving stress, anxiety, depression, learning, memory and overall brain function, meditation also helps our creativity by making us more aware of the present moment and helps us act more intuitively. If meditating isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of ways to relax and calm your mind, like colouring in, exercising or baking.
Feeling otherwise fine, but still not inspired?
There is plenty of inspiration out there, and your next big idea can hit you when you least expect. To cultivate your creativity, immerse yourself in other people’s creative work for inspiration. Seeing what others are doing helps us keep up with trends and build on other great ideas to develop new, better ideas. There are a number of ways you can stay updated with developments in digital marketing, read on to discover which is the right method for you.
Tips for creative growth and expansion
Subscribe to new podcasts and blogs
- Discover what other unique creative influencers are up to in your space. Try to find someone new with ideas you haven’t seen. This is a great way to regularly immerse yourself in creative works, and generate new expansive thoughts.
- Start by finding some blogs within the same field of work as yourself; but don’t discount seemingly unrelated inspiration. A simple Google search will yield heaps of results, and from there, start subscribing. Just make sure you don’t go crazy. Start with a few. Otherwise, you might find yourself overwhelmed and having to unsubscribe from a number of services. Also, don’t feel obligated to read every article posted. Read the ones that pique your interest. If you spot something while you’re busy, then save it for later. It’s that simple.
Into Digital Marketing? Here are some blogs we currently rate.
- Anchor Digital Blog
- Search Engine Journal
- Moz Blog
- Creative Boom have kindly put together for us 70 of the best blogs for creative inspiration
If you’re a bit too busy to read, then listening definitely counts as a form of professional development. Audio books are also a great way to absorb key information without really having to do much. Minimum effort and maximum pay off, that’s what we all want, right?
Follow creative social media accounts
On top of reading up on trends, a great way to stay inspired is to follow creative accounts or hashtags on Instagram. This is an extremely fitting activity for the graphic designers, UX experts and web designers out there.
Behance is a great creative portfolio platform for designers and artists to showcase their work. Customise your feed with topics covering everything from design, illustration and photography, fashion, advertising, motion and fine arts. Follow the accounts you love and encourage your creativity.
While there are a number of great instagram accounts you can follow based on your interests, one quick and easy way of getting a good ‘mixed bag’ of creators is by following a hashtag. We recommend the following:
Again, YouTube can also be a great source of inspiration for creativity, especially for insight on how to do something new. Or, even just to provide a little refresher on processes you thought you knew. Also, it can be quite therapeutic watching another artists work.
Get out there and meet people!
Sometimes we can get stuck in a vicious cycle of talking to no one except our clients and coworkers. Freelancers in particular might feel a little isolated at times, so it’s great to venture out every now and then. For professional matters, of course. Networking events are a great place to meet new people within the same profession and hear their creative ideas or experiences. Collaboration is a big opportunity in the digital space, so you never know what doors might swing open for you.
Another great way to stay in the loop is to become a member of a professional association. The Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) is a great organisation for anyone currently in a marketing role, or thinking of joining the industry. They also hold a number of professional events throughout the year. Networking is perfect for opening up the professional dialogue, seeking advice, building professional relationships. Not to mention, most events will cater. That’s right, free food and drinks.
If the thought of big networking events warrants a little hesitation, you might prefer something a little more low-key and casual. If this is the case, you should consider attending a meet-up group. You don’t have to become a member of any kind of organisation, you usually don’t have to pay to go, and you usually still get refreshments (for most meet-ups). There are many meet-ups occurring throughout a standard week, and they all focus on particular topics. So, there’s sure to be a group out there that works for you.
Inspired to become inspired again?
We hope so! Creative block is not forever, but it’s an indication that something may need to change. Whether it be better focus on your physical health and state of mind, an adjustment in your surroundings, professional growth, or inspo from other creatives that kicked your brain into gear, there’s always new strategies to try. Feel free to save this article for the next time you may need a mental pick-me-up.