nothing-to-say

We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.
Kurt Vonnegut

There are plenty of blog posts out there that give out tips on how to get past creative block.

But not that many of them are actually that actionable.

Take this post that appeared on lifehacker a year and a half ago. In it they suggest that you break creative block by embracing your bad ideas. Its not a new concept nor is it one that is particularly exciting. Anyone that has ever sat in on a brainstorming session will tell you that you just have to keep going and all bad ideas should be readily accepted and then challenged.

There are other posts like this one that appeared on FastCoDesign just over a year ago. There are some interesting points raised in the posts and some ideas that may indeed keep the internal cogs ticking over nicely. There are also some tips in there that aren't really going to help you that much: "realise that great work can result from intense struggle" – anyone who does anything creative for a living could tell you that one.

Some other posts on the topic are more enlightening – like this one from Gregory Ciotti. In it Gregory looks at real life studies and actually offers up solid advice that anyone can follow.

As someone who studied creatively at college and university (art and sculpture) and then followed a zigzagging path before ending up in SEO I find creativity (and where it comes from) fascinating. There are always posts on the buffer blog that cover this very thoroughly.

For a few years now SEO has been slowly moving towards the more creative end of marketing and it has not been easy for some in the industry to make that jump, or indeed those that are marketing their own sites.

The Tool That Really Helps

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
Scott Adams

Although I often use tools to help me get through the creative roadblocks that I have (http://bottlenose.com/ jumps to mind) I have recently started to use a quick technique invented by a musician to keep my mind fresh and the cogs-a-whirring.

Back in 1975 the musician Brain Eno and Peter Schmidt combined two similar projects they were working on to create and publish a deck of cards that they called Oblique Strategies.

Although they have not really seen too much light in public (they have been in and out of production since they were first released) you can find them and use them on this site:

http://oblicard.com/

Click the little button in the bottom left to get another random prompt!

Essentially they are a collection of phrases that are meant to encourage your brain to think more laterally.

oblique1

Is it a bit pretentious? Probably, but I have found them to be quite helpful when I am heading nowhere fast.

oblique2

Because they were designed with art and music in mind you will sometimes find that they don't always make complete sense, but for me that is half the fun.

Some of the best oblique strategies you may come across:

  • What mistakes did you make last time?
  • Turn it upside down
  • Don't be frightened of cliches
  • Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them
  • Remove ambiguities and convert to specifics
  • Don't be afraid of things because they're easy to do

Get a full list here: http://www.whatspace.nl/organisatie/120-oblique-strategies.html

If they appear for sale again, it is likely to be here: http://www.enoshop.co.uk/product/oblique_strategies_limited_numbered_edition?filter=Oblique%20Strategies

Get the full history of Oblique Strategies here: http://www.rtqe.net/ObliqueStrategies/OSintro.html

What do you do to beat creative block?

Wayne Barker

I work for Boom Online - an Online Marketing and SEO company based in Nottingham, England.

Boom Online

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