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8 Ways to CRUSH Creative Block for Content Marketers

By Vanessa KnipperFeb 5, 2014

Content Marketing Creative BlockDo you ever find yourself stuck in a creative rut? If so, you're certainly not alone. In fact, our content team here at Kuno meets regularly to share ideas for finding inspiration, including hot news to share in social media and topics for inspiring a blog post or a new piece of content.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut! So, we’ve compiled some of our best resources and tactics for breaking out of creative block and getting back on track with outstanding content ideas!

What is Creative Block?

Symptoms of creative block may include the following: not turning in blogs on time (guilty!), struggling with new ideas for content topics and feelings of frustration or a disconnect with a project when the “great ideas" well is dry.

It doesn’t mean you care any less about the project or client. Sometimes it’s simply being so close to a project that you seemingly run into an invisible wall. This infliction affects everyone with a role in marketing at some point—graphic designers, journalists, consultants, the analytics team, developers and strategists alike.

So, how do you beat down those walls holding you back from your next great content idea or design project? Here are some tactics and resources we’ve found to be useful here at Kuno, and some data to back up our recommendations.

Give Your Brain a Break.

We’ve seen a substantial amount of news articles lately about modifications to your typical workday that can help you relax, improve circulation, burn calories and, particularly, spark creativity. We’re talking about things like naps, breaks, blocked time for reading email, entertainment, getting back to the water cooler and chatting with co-workers more often, and checking in on personal social media to avoid FOMO. Not sure what FOMO is? Click here to find out.

Try to incorporate at least of few of these creative-block-crushing tactics in your everyday activities.

  1. Go Outside and Play. Fresh air and exercise in nature can encourage a fresh perspective. As little as a leisurely stroll outside after lunch, or as committed as a weekend backpacking getaway, both can help you get your creative "groove" back. In a recent research article, Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings, the abstract states: "Here we show that four days of immersion in nature, and the corresponding disconnection from multi-media and technology, increases performance on a creativity, problem-solving task by a full 50% in a group of naive hikers." Can’t get out? Feast your eyes on virtually any place you’ve ever traveled or dreamed of traveling with Tripovore.
  2. Ask for an Opinion from a Fresh Set of Eyes. Ask a mentor, a co-worker or your Mom. You might be surprised at the candid feedback and inspiration you can get just by asking for help.
  3. Keep an Idea Book. Or folder, or notebook, or sketchpad, or journal, or Pin Board. You get the point. Keep all of your best ideas in one place at arm's length to easily sift through for inspiration.
  4. Plug in Your Headphones. Create playlists with specific music you know will get your creative juices flowing. I prefer film scores, which I happen to be listening to as I type this.
  5. Get Lost in a Book. We’re not talking eBooks here, we’re talking Classics, beach-friendly summer reads, murder mysteries and love stories. Stories about dogs, notebooks and a girl who is talented with her bow and arrows. My current indulgence is Donna Tartt’s THE GOLDFINCH. At a meaty 771 pages, I’ll be talking my time with this one, so don’t rule out books because of their length. Take a slow read and let yourself get lost in itIn the Huffington Post article, An Ode to Unaccelerated Reading, Madeleine Crum says about one of the novels on her list—I carried it around with me for weeks, allowing it to seep into the way I looked at things. In short, I wasn't just reading, or even just contextualizing. I was savoring, like I did in my King of the Wind days. When I read the final sentence for the second time, I realized it neatly explained the particular, almost meditative joy found while lost in a very long novel. Check out Madeleine’s compilation of must-reads, which are as engaging as they are thick.
  6. Learn from Industry Experts. Stay up to date on industry best practices. Subscribe to blogs, stream podcasts and watch videos about things that matter most to you in your industry and career. Many of these things you can do while on the subway, riding a stationary bike or sitting in the park soaking up nature. In fact, this post was inspired by Chapter 13 of Smashing Magazine's Book #4—titled On Creative Spirit by Christopher Murphy. 
  7. Know What’s Happening Around You. Here are a few of our favorite places to find featured and popular content for inspiration:
  8. Host Collaborative Meetings. A.k.a “Get your umbrella out because a brainstorm is coming through!” Try some free-association with your team, or with anyone who's willing to participate. No idea is a bad idea.

Brainstorming Creative Content Ideas

Also, there is this handy little tool HubSpot created to help crank out ideas without breaking your brain. Check it out here > HubSpot Blog Topic Generator

All Things Considered... in Context

Check out this article by Drake Baer from Fast Co. about the importance of reducing stimulation to improve creativity (and save your sanity). He writes, “While endlessly doing stuff might seem to be the key to productivity, it turns out that creativity requires some not-doing as well.”

Here’s another interesting read on context when attempting to break through creative block. Consider No. 7: “The implication seems to be that while certain negative moods can be creativity killers, they aren’t as universal as positive moods (joy, being excited, love, etc) in that sometimes they may spur creative thinking rather than hinder it.” Consider the idea that your emotional reaction, although negative, could help to "improve your argument.”

And from another publication, “One of the surprising things that's emerged from the study of moods in recent years is that putting them in a bad mood—making them a little bit sad or melancholy—comes with some cognitive benefits.” —Jonah Lehrer

The Takeaway

The takeaway here is to make time for yourself to recharge and rethink in order to get the most out of your creativity. We hope these tips and tactics will help you plan your daily inspiration in order to break through creative block and expand your idea bank.

Do you have any creative-block-smashing resources or tactics that we can add to our list? Please share them with us in the comments! Thanks for reading.

Enterprise Inbound Marketing Guide Photo Credit: Chris Piascik, Buzz Andersen

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The Author

Vanessa Knipper

Vanessa Knipper is the Marketing Director at Kuno Creative. She enjoys writing about social media and marketing trends. Vanessa is an avid reader of tech blogs and industry news, which she shares regularly on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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