How to combat creative block in PR
2nd September 2021
You’re sitting in front of a blank word document, mug of tea in hand, and the clock is ticking away across the room… But no matter how hard you try, the ideas just won’t come. It’s the thing every creative professional fears the most: you’re suffering from creative block.
Throw in a client deadline and this productivity barrier starts to feel even more insurmountable. But, fear not! There are some simple things you can do to help unblock your creative brain and set your ideas flowing.
Know that you’re not alone
First things first, don’t panic! Since the dawn of time, creative block has haunted every single artist, musician, writer and, yes, PR professional, at one point or another. It doesn’t mean you’re bad at your job or in the wrong profession. Sometimes, for one reason or another, the well of fresh inspiration just runs dry.
Whether you’re struggling to find the perfect angle for an op-ed, searching for a concept for an attention-grabbing PR campaign, or stuck for new and interesting ways to tell your client’s story, there are ways to push through. So, take a deep breath, go easy on yourself and read on for our top tips on combating creative block…
Research, research, research
Sometimes, it might only take one tweet, article or Instagram post to spark a thought that leads to your killer idea. If creative block is holding you back, spend some time reading around the area you’re working on to get your head in the game and gather inspiration. Look at experts, companies and thought leaders in your sector. Have they said, written or created anything interesting or relevant recently? Google is your friend. When you’re staring at a blank page, doing some digging can help you build a springboard from which to formulate your creative idea. Creativity often won’t happen in a vacuum.
It may seem counterproductive when you’re struggling against a deadline, but stepping away from your computer can be crucial. Getting up and moving about can help shift your frame of mind, reduce stress and refocus you for when you return to your desk.
If you can, go for a quick walk. It’s no secret that nature can help boost creativity, and a change of environment can provide new sources of inspiration. Fresh air and exercise can also make you feel more positive, helping to break you out of the negative cycle on which creative block thrives. You’re only going to be gone for a few minutes, so leave your phone on your desk if you can to give yourself space to breathe and think without distractions.
If a walk’s not possible, just moving around the room or popping to the kitchen to make a drink can have a similar effect. Sometimes, when you’ve been stuck in front of a problem for a long time, the only way to get the ideas running is to get moving yourself.
Talk to others
We’ve all heard the saying ‘two minds are better than one’ – and when it comes to creative block, talking to others can really help. You may have simply been standing too close to the task, or staring too long at your computer screen. A fresh perspective from someone else could help reframe or shed new light on the problem.
Even if your friends or colleagues can’t offer you the perfect answer, just talking through the task may help spark ideas of your own. Conversation will help you consider the task from new and different angles that you may not have considered before. One of these might just turn out to be exactly what you need!
Just get writing
There is nothing worse than a blank page. And the longer you stare at it, the more challenging it becomes. So, sometimes the best thing to do is to just get writing. You don’t even have to produce full sentences or ideas – just typing or writing out whatever pops into your head can get the ball rolling and help your ideas to flow.
Set a timer – maybe 15-30 minutes – and write freely until the alarm sounds. Then, when your time is up, look back through the document and see if there are any pieces that you can pull together, or any ideas that you can develop further. Free from the pressure of having to produce the perfect idea straight away, you may find your creativity suddenly unleashed.
Check your schedule
We all work in different ways. And when it comes to creativity, there’s no exception. You may find that it’s easier for you to be more creative at a certain time of day or a particular point in the week.
Identifying the best time for you to tackle a creative task, and then scheduling your workload accordingly, can be hugely beneficial. Instead of spending hours agonising over a creative task in the late afternoon, when perhaps you personally find it more difficult to focus, you might discover that revisiting it first thing in the morning allows you to complete it much more quickly.
If deadlines allow, allocating tasks to times when you’re best suited to tackle them will seriously improve your productivity, and reduce your chances of struggling with creative block.
Go back to basics
If you’ve tried absolutely everything, and you’re still getting nowhere, then it’s time to go back to basics. This might mean switching off completely from the internet for an hour and sitting with pen and paper instead. The simple act of scribbling down thoughts and ideas on a blank A4 page may help your creativity flow more easily. Or, you might look back at projects you’ve completed before and try applying the same process or structure to this new task.
Alternatively, it might be helpful to take a break from the task at hand altogether and switch to completing other, less creative tasks – such as replying to emails, setting up meetings, or tackling some research – to give your creative mind a break. Often, when our mind is on other things, our best ideas can come to us without us even trying. And, once you’ve checked a few other things off of your to-do list, you can return to the creative task with a renewed sense of focus.
Creative block can often make you feel like you’ve hit a complete dead end. But by staying positive and putting these simple steps into practice, you’ll soon find yourself back on the road to creative success!
By Emma Line, Account Executive at Crest