Boosting Your Creativity When You’re Out of Ideas


You’ve met the client, and you know what they want to accomplish. You’ve determined your audience, through what methods that audience is most effectively reached, what the company is currently known for and what it wants to be known for moving forward, and you’ve nailed down the budget you have to get everything done.

Now comes The Big Idea (and you’ll have that for me by lunch, right?).

Being in the creative field is fascinating – no two projects, clients or days are the same. Boredom is never a factor, and the satisfaction of seeing the results is tremendous.

But… What happens when you’re supposed to be the creative one – and The Big Idea just isn’t showing up?

It’s hard to be creative all the time.

And it’s not something you can schedule. It’s not something you can force. I once spent an entire afternoon trying to come up with a concept, spinning my wheels. I finally left to go home – it was far past the normal dinner time – and The Big Idea popped into my head before I’d driven three blocks.

Are you tasked with coming up with the Big Idea?

Are you out of ideas?

Stop. Stand up. Walk outside.

It doesn’t matter what the weather is. Walking outside for fresh air immediately changes my mood, and whether it’s warm or cold, it’s jarring enough to the senses to wake me up a bit. We know it’s not natural to stay inside staring at a computer screen for eight hours – get outside.

And while you’re out there:

  • Look around – Arre the colors of the sky, grass, flowers or car parked on the street stirring up any inspiration for the design concept waiting for you at your desk?
  • Listen – Are the birds chirping or cars honking? What else is happening? Should these types of elements be in the commercial you’re storyboarding?
  • Smell – So if you’re in marketing, you’re probably not tasked with creating a scent for your client. But you are tasked with making the audience feel something. Smell the flowers. Breathe in some fresh air. What’s it make you feel?
  • Chat – Say hi to the family walking their dog. Small talk with the crossing guard at the corner. How is their day going? What stories do they have to tell you that might inspire some ideas?

Go make friends. And then ask them for feedback.

There are plenty of times I have an idea I know is almost there and just needs a little more spark – and maybe the potential extra pizazz is something more likely to be thought of by someone with different creative talents. So I, a writer, might ask a designer or cinematographer how my content makes them feel [Lucky for me we have both at Overit!]. What do they picture when they read it? What experiences and insight do they have that might help me flesh out my thoughts a little more?

More often than not, those little conversations – two minutes of time – lead to more productivity and far more interesting concepts than another 15 minutes of frustrated solitary brainstorming.

Just be smart about this – don’t go interrupting people’s days and their own productivity so you can get yours back on track.

Find a new setting. Figure out what works for you.

Do you like working in a quiet setting, or do you work best with music playing? Will a white noise player like block out distracting chatter around you?

I use to give me the conversational background noise always present in coffee shops and neighborhood parks, where I’m at my most productive and creative.


Overit’s rehabbed church is not short on bright spaces and inspiring décor, but when I’m in a rut, I’ll pick up my laptop and relocate to a different corner of the office, because a simple change in setting is often all I need to refresh and reset a stalled creative process. During the first few weeks of summer, the front steps will become my writing spot.

Determine how you can change your work environment to best suit you. Find your creative spot(s). And if your desk area can’t physically move, let your mind…


There’s something to be said for a little online surfing. Not to see what’s already been done so you can recreate it, but to see how other marketing professionals are approaching new concepts. How new technologies are being embraced. How people are responding to designs, sounds, videos and text – and how it might encourage you to develop yours.

Switch Tasks. Come Back Later.

While you’re stuck on this one idea, you probably have the rest of your to do list waiting. Know when to switch gears for a little bit. Taking a break from the project you’re struggling with will free you up to be productive doing something else, allowing you to distress and relax before returning for another creative brainstorming session.

Take a shower.

Get relaxed! Get creative! Get clean! Get that dopamine released into your stressed out brain – science recommends this!

“Why we have our best ideas in the shower: The science of creativity by Leo Widrich goes as far as suggesting bringing a notepad in the shower with you to catch all those creative ideas (before they go down the drain…).

Take the day off.

Maybe not when you’re up against a deadline. But if you’re noticing a trend throughout your recent workdays, where burnout is keeping you from your best work? Use one of those vacation days to get yourself rejuvenated, whether your day is spent planting your garden or napping in the nearest hammock.

Bottom line: Know when to take a break.

Whether you take a short walk around the block, go get coffee with a coworker or spend a little time reading the latest news online, know when you need to take a few minutes to refresh your head and boost your creative juices. Staring at your pen and paper (or laptop and keyboard) until The Big Idea comes to you causes headaches and stress, only adding to the frustration.

Our tips – what do you do?