Five ways to kick-start creativity

Friends often ask me: “How do you come up with a different topic to write about every week?” I won’t lie, sometimes it gets really hard. Writing about entrepreneurship has come about because of my interaction with different people through my line of work. But there are some occasions when I am completely low on ideas. If I have a lot going on with work, I find it difficult to reflect and write about business in the UAE.

Luckily, I am not the only one facing such a dilemma. Hitting a mental block is a challenge that many of my fellow entrepreneurs face. There may be a deadline in a week’s time and you still have no idea what to present to your client when you meet next. Or perhaps you are so detail-orientated and such a perfection seeker that you are afraid to start a project you fear you might not succeed at.

Whatever the reason, you do not want to be stuck with a mental block for long, especially when you have clients waiting to hear back from you. Although the most important thing is to remember that being short on ideas is extremely normal. So what is the best way to handle such a situation?

Start with the easy stuff

If you are overwhelmed with the size of a project and lack the confidence to tackle it, then carry out any smaller tasks first. Check your email, tidy up your office or return a few phone calls. The sense of achievement that comes with getting something done will subconsciously boost your confidence and help you feel ready to tackle that troublesome project. Before I start writing, for example, I always check any pending emails and do some exercise. Not only does exercise elevate my mood, but I also feel a sense of accomplishment.

Write anyway

If you have a report to deliver, a novel to finish writing or do not know how to begin drafting a presentation, start writing anyway. What I find helpful is to type whatever comes to mind on to my computer screen. Once the process is under way, I then find it easier to focus on my topic. Many writers recommend utilising 10 minutes a day to get the process going.

Change the scenery

If you’re finding it difficult to focus in the office or at home, then don’t work there that day. Changing your location can often change the mood associated with it. Take your work and head to your favourite coffee shop for a change, or move to another room in the house that has a different view. When I find my room too quiet to focus in, I move to the living room. Although a quiet place is usually ideal to focus in, the living room with its background television noise really gets my creative juices flowing.

Research similar ideas and projects

If I am stuck on one client’s project, I put it to one side and research what others in similar fields have been up to. Learning about their experiences can be inspiring. Look at what made a project successful, then analyse how the lessons you have learnt could affect the project you are stuck on. When I have hit a roadblock in a piece of creative writing, I read books within the same genre. This gets me in the right frame of mind and inspires me to jot down ideas on what to write next.

Last but not least, take a break

One of my favourite things to do when I experience a brain freeze is to do something unrelated to work. Go out, meet your friends or spend an evening with your family. Give your mind a break by allowing it to relax. Often during those interactions with my friends and family, or by doing something that has nothing to do with work, I feel inspired and come up with amazing business ideas. It is also through these moments that I learn more about the business world and can report about it in my columns.

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


Manar Al Hinai

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