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Mode: Focus — A Guide for Creative Head Space

Get out of your creative funk using these tools you’re already equipped with.

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Creative thinking can be just like a form of meditation if you let it and using the right tricks. Using these tools, they will allow you to tap into your creative headspace that helps you flex that creative muscle. Reminder: you cannot delegate thinking.

Find your hobby

I admittedly have a short attention span that causes me to burn out of all the attention I have for something. I have some go-to hobbies I enjoy when I’m feeling burnt out on a task. It’s central to find a good work-life balance that includes some favorite hobbies. I find it important to practice unnecessary creativity from hobbies “outside” of traditional design practices, you’ll find it can relate back to basic principals of design one way or another. There are times where I do not feel like drawing, so I will utilize my time either going to a movie or seeing a live music performance. Rotating out your hobbies when you are feeling burnt out will help you practice unnecessary creation.

Practice Self-Awareness and Self-Care

Make time to be in your own body. It’s important to be thoughtful and self-aware throughout the workday. Letting your mind wonder helps trigger your brain to work it’s magic subconsciously. Also, have you drank any water today? I typically have mind-fatigue following moments of contemplation or diligently working on projects. (Which really means I had too much Coffee and now I’m dehydrated) It’s fundamental to be mindful of your own body. Remember that it’s also okay to take breaks!

There are no easy streets

Keep your mind off auto-pilot. In parallel to mindfulness, active listening is essential in processing information. Remember, all things start at square one; If you’re not already listening you might have already screwed any creative visions or connections without completely understanding what your objectives are. If someone is trailing-on about how their child pooped in their shoe this morning, tell them “Hey, you’re losing me.” and refocus the conversation. It’s not impolite when it’s your own time. Identify your surroundings and try to be creative during the same time of day, with the same environment and sounds that ‘signify’ your brain to trigger into creative mode.

Importance of Opinion

Opinions can help direct the creative process and reinforce ideas. It allows you to train your brain to take risks and get out of your usual comfort zone. Remember, it’s okay to have an opinion, most brands try to stay away from this. This is more necessary now more than ever to align an idea with a brand. Having an opinion is my suggested way to achieve buy-in.

Use Limitations as a Benefit

Limitations can trigger a lot of last moment inspiration. Some of my best ideas come from a good time crunch. Look — I hate last minute projects and presentations just as much as the next person. This is something in life I've learned to accept, much like death. Accept that even with a tight budget, a creative’s job at the end of the day is to make someone feel something, whatever that might be and if you didn’t, well, that leads into my next point…

Owning up to Problems and Mistakes

You will make mistakes and failures along the way. Address problems that stem from a creative block beforehand. There’s no passing the buck on this one in regards to creative thinking. This is one of the fatal mistakes most creative directors need to overcome, (pride is an issue for me.) Owning your mistakes is where you can find your sense of pride. Honestly, your employees with thank you and appreciate your leadership on this subject.

Define “Done”

Get in the motions before starting any project to make sure you are defining what the finished project is. For me ‘X’ amount of hours I put into something equates to what my version of what “Done” is. Which often, is not the best idea to rely on deadlines to guide the work but when it comes to drawing, painting, and inking, you will often find that with any project there might not be an end in sight, or may not have the outcome you had planned. However, sometimes the biggest of problems can be fixed with the most simple solutions — be sure to define those.

About the writer, Britta Buescher Britta is a creative director for one of leading comic book companies in the United States. She’s a leading voice for professional women illustrators, designers, and animators.

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