No matter how hard you stare at your computer screen, no matter how long your fingers hover over the keyboard, some days the words refuse to flow. The innovative ideas you fell asleep with at the forefront of your mind have evaporated in the light of day. The spark is beyond your grasp. The well has run dry. Your muse has deserted you.
When you write for a living, as technical writers or instructional designers – or you work in a venue requiring some level of creative expression – it can be frustrating when your muse refuses to cooperate. However, by asking a few unexpected questions or adding a new twist to your train of thought, you can tap into the flow once again.
Question the Question & Interview the Problem
If you ask a unique question your brain doesn’t have an automatic response to, you’re forced to think of a subject in a different way. First, you can start by questioning the question itself. Instead of asking, “How should I structure this user manual,” ask instead, “What would be the easiest way for people to use the information in this manual?”
You can follow questioning the question by interviewing the problem. In journalism, the go-to questions are “Who?” “What?” “Where?” When?” “Why?” and “How?” As you interview the problem, it may naturally give up the innovative answer that it’s been hiding from you.
Brainstorm Implausible Solutions
It’s easy to get trapped in the mindset that all the options you brainstorm have to be dazzlingly brilliant. Instead, stop trying so hard and entertain the impossible.
Consider the wildest, most far-out solution – the one that could never work for what you want to accomplish. Then unpack that solution, to see if any pieces are indeed plausible and can take you in a direction you hadn’t considered.
Revisit Your Assumptions
A great way to find inspiration is to challenge perceived limitations. This isn’t easy, because so many of our assumptions are deeply ingrained. But if we step outside our comfort zone and challenge our perception of a situation, we can return with a fresh viewpoint and solve the problem plaguing us.
Click here to learn more about how reframing a problem can unlock your innovation.