Where do you find inspiration?

I’ve worked with a few Creative Directors and the good ones realise that their stable of Writers and Art Directors need constant stimulation to be able to create concepts that aren’t run-of-the-mill and can potentially be award winners.

Where some would frown upon any stimulus away from the office, others would encourage us to get out and work in any kind of stimulating environment that ultimately produced a far better result.

Ideas can come from anywhere and from anyone. They sure as hell don’t come from sitting at the same old desk staring at a blank piece of paper or blank computer screen.

If you’re a Writer, Art Director or Designer, you need to be acutely aware of what’s going on around you. You need to be a keen observer of life — people, nature, local events, world events, news, politics, sports and the entertainment industry. All of this is gold if you’re looking for some kind of stimulus to crack a creative brief.

So where can you see, hear and experience any or all the above? Obviously we’re bombarded with a lot of this on our TV screens. But there’s more to life than sitting down in front of the box every day.

Get out of your office, out of your comfort zone and into the world. Take a good look around you, you don’t have to go far if just know where to look.

Here’s a list of some of the things you can do to get your creative juices flowing. It’s by no means comprehensive, but it might kick start some other ideas for creative stimulation and may be just the thing you need to keep yourself fresh and to impress your Creative Director with your next offering.

  • Work in a café or a pub for a few hours. Talk to other customers and to the owners and staff of the business.
  • Take plenty of walks. Walk through parts of the city or suburbs you’ve never been to before.
  • Take public transport to and from work. Look at the people around you and try to imagine what they do for a job.
  • Visit places you may not ordinarily frequent like museums, art galleries, and exhibitions.
  • Immerse yourself in different cultures by trying different cuisines or attending one of the many food and wine festivals.
  • Take in other forms of cultural entertainment like opera, dance or cabaret.
  • Watch some local sport. There’s always a game of local football, soccer or netball happening somewhere.
  • Watch or even try some alternative sports like badminton, fencing, martial arts to name a few.
  • Try extreme sports like skydiving or abseiling.
  • Join a club. Any club, just join one.
  • Do a crossword. In fact, stretch your brain even more and learn how to do cryptic crosswords. Once you learn I guarantee you’ll be hooked.
  • Visit towns you’ve never been to before. Yep, it’s time for a road trip.
  • Holiday in destinations you’ve never been to.
  • Take someone in the office you don’t have much to do with to lunch. Your accountant, receptionist or IT guy could the source of your next big campaign.
  • If you work in an agency with global connections, ask to spend some time in another office in another part of the country.
  • Work in your client’s office. Get to know more about their business, their product/service, and their staff.
  • If your client is a retail chain or store, visit and work in their surrounds to get and idea of what their customers experience.
  • Talk to their customers too.
  • And their staff.
  • Create concepts with anything other than a Mac. Making an idea come to life with your hands goes a long way to impressing a client.
  • Get a blank A3 pad and aim to fill every page with an original idea.
  • If you’re a writer, write your copy out by hand. You’ll be surprised how much this sharpens your thought process.
  • Change your music. Listen to anything other than what you’re used to — even audio books.
  • Volunteer. There are some incredible people who volunteer and some of the stories they tell are quite inspirational.
  • Get involved in local community projects.
  • Read, read, read. Especially material you wouldn’t ordinarily read including things like short stories; plays; journals; autobiographies; and any unfamiliar genres.

Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully it gives you an impetus to get out and experience more of everyday life which in turn might spark a creative thought or idea.

Even if your boss frowns on you being away from your desk during office hours, use some time before and after work or your lunch break to get out and do something different.

Oh, and if you have any other great ideas for sparking creativity, let me know.


About the author: Steve Williss


Steve Williss has been a Studio Artist, Studio Manager, Typographer and Art Director before taking up the call to pen the copy he has crafted so often over the years. He is currently owner and go-to guy at WriteMind — a writing, communications, and ideas business based in Adelaide, South Australia.

This article was first published by Steve Williss

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  1. […] Writing can be a complete nightmare, no matter how interesting the topic.  It can take hours to write just a few paragraphs, even if you have plenty of ideas and just want to get going. Sometimes it can all come tumbling out in a caffeine induced typing high, leaving you with a jumble of incomprehensible drivel. The hardest part with writing is starting. Trust me, as someone who calls myself a writer, I can spend hours staring at my blank computer screen, waiting for the urge to arrive, no matter how compelling the idea. I get stuck in my own head, becoming my own obstacle. I know I’m not the only one. So, I have come up with some of the best ways to motivate yourself to write! […]

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