What To Do When You Can’t Be Creative

creative rutEveryone loves to enjoy the fruits of creativity, right? Wrong. The sad truth is that when people say they’re in the market for something really creative, it’s often the last thing they want. True creativity will shake up their assumptions; it will feel completely left-field; it will come across as childish, or offensive, or bizarre. That’s how it works, folks. You know that, and I know that, but the person nervously twiddling with the purse-strings? Maybe not so much.

When this happens, here are a few tips you can follow to retain your sanity (or, failing that, to channel your insanity in a constructive manner):

Make an argument for creativity. This might be your first line of defense, and there is plenty of literature to support it. Mounting a rational defense for irrational ideas might seem quixotic, but if your audience logged any hours in a high-school debate club, you just might have a chance.

Draw stick figures in the margins of your notebook. Reinventing our creative defeats through creative means has a long history – nary a novelist has gone to print without settling old scores against those who have curtailed her creativity. Frustration can be a fuel for great thinking – just be careful not to let the wrong people realize they’re being lampooned.

Trash a hotel room. Come on, you’ve always wanted to do it – now’s your chance! More constructive (and cheaper) ways to physically vent your anger include having a workout, going out for a nice long walk, or just screaming into a pillow – but they aren’t quite as satisfying.

Sneak it in. Sometimes, you have to build a Trojan horse for your idea by hiding something radical within something that seems pretty unsurprising on the surface. It’s all in the presentation –  and creating the “safe” façade just might require more creativity than the original idea.

Write satirical blog posts about what to do when you can’t be creative. Our struggles can be so much easier when we have other people to share them with. Creative folks should regularly go out for beers (real or virtual) and swap stories about how great it is to be creative and how dull everyone else is for not appreciating us. War stories and advice from others can invigorate us for the next challenge.

Be creative anyway. When used appropriately, creativity is like a liquid – it’ll flow past whatever obstacle you put in its path. Whenever someone says “No,” what you should really hear is “No to some of it but not all of it.” Try expressing your idea a different way. Try taking something that works from your idea and reimagining it in a different context. Or try doing the polar opposite of what you originally thought of. Either way, don’t let it get you down – you’re still brilliant, even if it takes a while to convince other people.

Image credit: fatatommarketing.com

This post first appeared on the Holmes Report.