Three Easy Ways To Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

There are days, and then there are days. You know what I’m talking about. On some days, everything clicks. You’re a step ahead of yourself; your mind fills with questions but the answers come a moment later; your boss (or client) wants three creative concepts for the next marketing campaign, and five flood into your mind—and you haven’t even had that second cup of coffee!

Then there are those other days, when you just can’t push the rock up the hill; nothing clicks; everything is out of phase.  You’re pulling your hair out wondering what has happened, when just yesterday you were on the ball.  The good news is that in the digital age, there are plenty of tools and prompts to help you through those “days.”

Earlier, I wrote about Word Hippo, which helps me find the right word when words are reluctant to come to my aid. Here, let’s talk about three other creation-sparking tools that are easy to use.

1. You’re writing and you’re in the ballpark, but the word you know is out there (or a better word you know must be out there) eludes you. This is a free and simple tool for finding the right word you know is there. Type in the word you’re reluctantly using and take it from there. Within a few minutes, you’ll have a better word and be on your way.

2. Mind maps: If you know me, you know my mind runs as fast as a New York minute--inputs and thoughts just rushing in and out. Yeah, not always pretty! The challenge can be harnessing those thoughts into something useful. If the thoughts are there, you know they are pieces of a puzzle, but we’re often unsure how the pieces go together. This is where mind-mapping comes to the rescue! Take a run through any number of free mind-mappers (like Coggle, Mindmaple or WiseMapping) and start capturing those random but incredibly creative thoughts. Once you capture them in the tool, you can then begin to build and connect them in ways that will yield stories or project recommendations or marketing campaigns.

3.  Starbursting: This is a brainstorming technique rooted in traditional journalism: who, what, where, why, and how. Journalists are taught to ask and answer these questions in every story. But the questions are just as useful for our work in marketing and communications. Star bursting is about asking questions (and more questions) to help you and your team work through challenges like product naming/development, campaign creation, even press release creation. Take a core idea and build the four Ws and one H around it in a starburst (you can draw it on a sheet of paper with a good old-fashioned pen! What a concept!). Then start asking questions and writing them down. For more information (and to download a free template), check out this article. 



Why are we so stress out?

Our PR marketing jobs are incredibly stressful--more stressful than being a cop, according to one study!

How is that even possible? The odds of us getting injured or killed on the job are far less than those of cops (well, there was that one really difficult client some years back…).

Public relations is the sixth-most-stressful occupation according to this article.  And events manager is ranked number 5, which is another thing we do here at Cayenne. So if you put those two high-stress jobs together, you could say we should be knocking on the door of the nuthouse! (No comments from those of you who have known me for a while).  We love our business, so we’ve learned to manage.

There’s good stress and bad stress. It’s important to manage and mitigate the bad stress. So how do we do it here at Cayenne? Like everything else, we do it with grace and passion.

1. Exercise. My boyfriend is an ass. I could end this paragraph right here with that one sentence, and for those of us who have significant others who like to exercise you know what I mean. He makes me exercise when I don’t want to, but you know what? I’ve come to enjoy the endorphins that rush into me after a good workout. I’ve learned to suppress the terror that comes with his last-second decision to turn right on a busy street during a bike ride when he has signaled left. But at the end of the day, once the cursing has died down, I feel exhausted, relaxed, and I sleep a lot better.

2. Put it all down. Every day.  We live in a digital age — always connected, always reachable. This is great in some respects, but unhealthy in others. Create boundaries for yourself and your clients and boss. Just because you CAN be reached all day and all night doesn’t mean it’s right. To properly recharge for each work day, your mind needs to create a separation, to think about other things (or nothing). If need be, create a daily out-of-office email response for late hours in the day. People will respect it. I’m not very good at this, frankly. My iPhone and I are attached at the hip (there’s even a picture of me somewhere sound asleep in bed clutching my iPhone!), but sometimes you need that separation.

3. Laugh. YouTube is a wondrous invention, and laughter, as they say, is the best medicine. Take 5 minutes a couple of times on a stressful day, search out your favorite comedian or reality video on YouTube and watch a few minutes of some bit. It’s a nice break that will remind you that one of the best things in life is laughter.

4. Meditate. A multi-billion-dollar industry has grown up around meditation and yoga. And, yeah, I wish I had that type of body! But let’s be honest: Time is money in our business. It’s hard to justify (much less settle down for a few minutes) closing your eyes and doing the ohmmmmmm thing, especially in the middle of a chaotic work day. But you can do something that’s just as effective and is effectively meditation. Do you like to knit? Sew? Take 10 minutes to knit or sew something. Or play yourself in a game of Jenga. You can’t NOT concentrate on the task at hand. These type of concentration and focus — a vacation for the mind — separates you from work for a few minutes and gives your mile-a-minute mind some much-needed rest from the work day.

5. Drink. Yeah, OK. It’s not politically correct. And if you do #1 hard core, there’s little reason to consider this option. But people are human. On the most frazzling days, it really doesn’t hurt to sit down and have a glass of wine (I do enjoy my wine time). Why? It may be impractical—especially if it’s been a long day and it’s now dark—to pull on the jogging shorts and go for a run at 11 p.m. (Especially if you’re a woman; sorry, politically incorrect but life). Have a drink and savor it and then meditate on its impact. Leave it at that. Don’t overdo it. Then go back and do numbers 2-4 for the rest of the evening.

These tips have helped ease my stress levels, and they’ll work for you too!