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How To Tap Into Creativity When You’re Stuck in a Rut

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Maintaining an engaging online presence and delivering fresh content ideas on a regular basis can be creatively depleting. And suddenly, that well of great ideas starts to run dry, leaving some Creators feeling stuck in a rut.

If you’re one of those Creators, here are a few hacks to get you into that coveted creative “flow state” where ideas for your next month of content effortlessly flow from your head and onto your content calendar (And yes, this is a real state of mind!).

1. Gamify your brainstorming 

Have you ever taken out your phone, asked yourself “what is my next brilliant Instagram Reel idea?”, and then…couldn’t come up with anything? 

If you answered “yes,” we recommend this hack: pretend your brainstorm session is a gameshow. You’re the contestant, and your one objective is to come up with content ideas. There are no wrong answers, all ideas welcome. Let’s do it!

  • Set Parameters: Give yourself highly specific parameters, which will provide a clear foundation to get started. For example, you can come up with five Instagram Reel video ideas about summer trends featuring items all under $200. Consider parameters like social media platform (Instagram, YouTube), content format (short form video, static post), subject vertical (fashion, beauty), and even content type (DIY hacks, outfit ideas, product recommendations).
  • Set a timer: Timebox yourself in different intervals: give yourself three minutes, then five minutes, then ten minutes. Make it short enough to put a little pressure on yourself (when it’s too long, it’s easier to procrastinate and spend the time staring blankly at your screen), but long enough to actually get into a creative flow state.
  • Start Ideating: Write down as many ideas as you can that meet your parameters within the short burst of time you’ve allotted for yourself.

When you’re done, step away and come back to your ideas later with fresh eyes. Look at them critically and workshop them:

  1. First, ask yourself if you would engage with these posts If you saw them—why or why not?
  2. Ask yourself what can be improved or expanded upon to make these ideas really pop?
  3. Finally, try ranking your ideas, and keep the ones that resonate with you the most.

2. Workshop your ideas with your friends and family

Once you have a batch of ideas, refine the concepts by leaning on your biggest fans, aka, friends and family. 

Do something fun—like take them to coffee, or out for drinks—and run your ideas by them. Often, the most in-depth, honest conversations spark the best ideas, so the goal is to have a collaborative chat. 

See what they say, ask follow up questions, and try to turn their feedback into clear and actionable ideas. Feel free to keep it casual and informal. To get the conversation going, you can ask them questions like:

  • Which of these content ideas is the most memorable to you? If you were scrolling past it, would you stop and engage with it?
  • What’s a problem you’re facing with style, beauty, home design [insert your niche here!] and do any of these ideas solve it?
  • How could I make this idea into something you’d save or share on a social media platform?

3. Learn from your own audience

You know who probably knows your content as well as your family and friends? Your audience!

If you’re feeling creatively stuck, it can be so helpful to go straight to the source and ask your followers about the kinds of content they find most engaging and inspiring.

Here are a few ideas for how to do that:

  • Go on Instagram stories, give your audience two different topic ideas, and ask them which one inspires them most.
  • Create a “fill in the blank” field and ask them what they want to know or learn about.
  • Show them a few of your recent posts, and use polls, quizzes, or questions to ask them what parts resonated with them and why.
  • Here are some templates to get you started!

It also never hurts to look at how past content performed, and see if you can get inspired by some of your previous top posts. If you want to learn more about the interests of your target audience, you can also research your industry, niche, or competitors.

4. If you’re still stuck, turn your brain off.

If the creativity is not yet flowing, allow yourself to recharge and give yourself space for your creativity to flourish. Experiment with how to turn your brain on autopilot with activities like:

  • Listen to music: Science suggests that brown noise can actually help turn your brain off.
  • Meditate: Meditation apps like Headspace often have meditations specifically for boosting creativity.
  • Take a bath or a shower: If you’ve ever wondered why your best ideas seem to come to you in the shower, you’re not alone!
  • Scroll through Instagram or TikTok: We know, it feels obvious, but they are great sources of inspiration.

You can even try creative activities that have nothing to do with creating content, which all help encourage that effortless “flow,” like painting, dancing, or reading.

And it may sound simple, but there are few better ways to get into a creative flow state than to just…take a walk. Walk somewhere that isn’t too distracting and have your Notes app ready to jot down any idea that comes to mind. 

Once you find the techniques that help you get into your creative flow state, brainstorming new content ideas can feel like a breeze.

Need a creative partner? For content inspiration, monetization tools, and resources to fuel your Creator career, join Collective Voice here.