Joanna Moorwood is sitting at her desk. It’s just gone midnight and a cup of green tea sits untouched next to her desk light. Moorwood designs websites, and she has spent the last four days trying to come up with a creative angle for a new client, but so far she has nothing. It’s the most high-profile client she has ever been commissioned by, and she knows that if she performs well, there will be repeat commissions and her services could be recommended. But she has nothing. The blank piece of paper in front of her makes Moorwood feel like a failure, and the clawing panic inside her is blocking her creativity even further.
Creative people of all kinds suffer from writer’s block. Dr Kamal Birdi, a psychologist at the University of Sheffield describes writer’s block as being when you “run out of ideas but are still mining the same old sources for inspiration so there is nothing ‘fresh’ to spark your inspiration.“ She explains how such a situation can be caused by stress and anxiety, which takes away cognitive resources from actually coming up with new ideas. Anyone who is faced with deadlines and the pressure to be creative can suffer from writer’s block. Whether that’s devising a business proposal, or working out how to get the best staff for a project, stress hits us all in different ways. Birdi also warns about being overcritical, “Trying to be too critical and setting your standards too high can limit your creative journey before it’s even begun.”
In today’s market there is added pressure: people are so desperate for work, and there is such a large pool of freelancers that if a company doesn’t like what is produced they can easily hire another mind for a new project. Freelancers and entrepreneurs know this, which creates more stress and makes people feel as though they need to work even harder for their bread and butter.
In tomorrow's instalment of this series, we look at some of the best ways to stimulate ideas...