What does it mean, to run out of ideas? How is there a solution?
We generally only think of a select few kinds of jobs as being ‘creative’. But much of our lives are spent being creative in one way or another. In working life, our creativity is really about combining our experience (all of it, both within and outside working life) with whatever challenge we are facing, and perhaps putting ideas together in a new way: using something from our experience of this situation to help solve a problem in that situation.
In a full-on creative setting (writers, artists, composers and so on) the individual’s experience and the story they want to tell is what drives the work itself. For people doing creative work, there is often a ‘story’ to be told that helps to drive the work on. Every last one of us has a story inside of us, and a very compelling story at that. Getting to know our own story helps to create our own individual narrative and can point up strong themes that can emerge in the creative work. But when circumstances change, that story may need to change too. Creative block often happens in this transition stage: what seemed important back then no longer feels like it matters now. Thinking and reflecting on these changes can get us back on track.
When you look at creativity like this, we can start to understand a little more about what people mean when they say they have ‘run out of ideas’ or feel blocked in some way. In a more everyday work setting, a person’s ‘story’ (essentially, their own set of unique experiences) will help them to bring in new ideas and perspectives to their work. Feeling comfortable with our own story – where we come from, what we have done, which people or what events have influenced us – will help us to feel free enough to use our experiences to make connections between ideas. And those connections are like the electricity that drives creativity forwards.
You could say that along with a sense of our personal story, we also need a sense of freedom (something like ‘permission’) to bring our ideas to life. This is particularly true within everyday working environments which we would not usually describe as ‘creative’. If we feel constrained in expressing our ideas (through fear that they will not be taken seriously, or we will be criticised, or that our perspective is not a relevant one, for example) then we will keep those ideas buried. But if we are prepared to take the risk to put our ideas out there, and stop worrying about how they might be received, then we really can let our creativity flourish.
Not all our ideas are on target.