I’ve always thought that brainstorming is a creative approach that should span across an entire agency, not just the creative department. Now I am no expert in the science of brain creativity functions, but as a copywriter I can at least tell you what works for me:
Let Go. Not to get all “Namaste” on you here, but if you’re going to kick off your brainstorming process right, you’ve got to let go of whatever’s got you distracted from your A-Game. Yeah, that means letting go of resentment for the guy who accidentally shoved you on the EL this morning and didn’t apologize (apparently I’m still working on letting that go this morning). Everyone starts off the day with a few of these distractions, it’s only human; but you’re not going to be on your creative A-Game if those things dictate your attitude for the day. My method? Sucker-punch those distractions with awesomeness and a few hilarious cat videos and get those ideas flowing.
Take Some Time for Playtime. Whenever I make a little time for playtime during a brainstorm, I feel reenergized and more positive about new ideas. It could be a couple rounds of Pictionary with co-workers, a trip to the dog park, a lunchbreak workout…. Personally, I’m all about Legos. Anything that diverts you from staring at the bright lights of your computer screen is a good thing. But don’t overthink it, just play.
Throw in Some New Perspective. When you think you’re hitting a wall in the creative process, everyone always says that an outsider’s perspective is key. Now you don’t have to go out and poll strangers at a CTA station, but try pulling some inspiration from the people who sit around you from media folks to account managers to the HR posse—just because they’re not in the creative department doesn’t mean they don’t have fabulous ideas! And since you work together, they’ll probably have a good base understanding of the project so you don’t have to spend too much time explaining every detail off the bat.
Go Rogue. I feel like I’m going back to that “Namaste” stuff again by saying this, but I don’t care because I think it’s important—a positive environment is everything. When working on bigger projects, being surrounded by others under the same pressure can pull you into the hype. Skirt the hype and go take a walk, or maybe grab your notebook and work remotely from a park or coffee shop for an hour. Taking a brainstorm away from my desk gets me in a better zone, and there’s nothing wrong with going off the grid a little bit to jumpstart your creative process without interruptions.
Trust Yourself. Because you have good ideas in there, whether you know it or not. People sometimes fall under the impression they need to tailor their ideas to what a certain person in a meeting may think or how they might react, and to that I say IT’S A TRAP! When you do that, you’re telling your inner creative unicorn goddess (yes, that’s a thing and everyone’s got one) that it’s time to stop being awesome and take up a gig in horse carriage rides down Michigan Avenue. If that sounds extreme, that’s because it is. Setting limitations in creative concepting is a dangerous thing, and that’s why becoming comfortable with your ideas and trusting your thought process above all else is one of the most important aspects of brainstorming. Now be free, inner unicorn goddess. Be free!