Finding Your Creative Spark!

Jessica Porpa, Instructional Designer 

Our goal at CypherWorx is to keep our user’s attention through creative, fun, interactive, and effective courses. As instructional designers it is our job to think of new and creative ways that will appeal to our users. Some days our creative juices can be flowing rapidly, but at times we hit a wall and just don’t know which direction to go in. We all hit that wall every now and then, but it’s important to put aside our frustration and face the challenges that are thrown our way. Here are some tips for finding that creative spark once again.

  1. Write it down- Some people will tell you that lists aren’t helpful and cause more stress than anything else, but to me it’s a great way to organize information and just let everything floating around in your head out. It’s easy for ideas, information, symbols and words to get jumbled after a while. When you write things down you get a clearer perspective of all your thoughts. You don’t necessarily have to make a list, even sketching ideas out or making a mind map helps you to explore unexpected connections between things. I find it easier to sketch things quickly and make little scribbles than to worry about technique since the goal is to get ideas out, not create a work of art. Sometimes writing things down and making quick sketches will help you connect things better. Plus it’s great to have a visual reference rather than clouded ideas dancing around in your head.
  1. Get Up and Move- I can’t stress how important this is. Not only is it important to move around for health reasons, but taking a break from sitting at a computer all day can really help spark your creativity. Moving can be as simple as getting up to go to the bathroom or getting a glass of water to going for a brief walk. Sitting for long periods of time and constantly staring at a computer screen can cause your body and eyes to become strained, and this may cause your brain to stop thinking creatively and focus more on other problems. Physically moving your body and considering your problems within a different environment can have a positive effect on your creative thinking.
  1. Collaborate- Collaborating with your co-workers is a great way to share ideas, learn new tricks, and explore a new way of thinking. When you’ve hit a creative block it’s great to have peers you can go to for inspiration. Here at CypherWorx we have ID Meetings every other week where we can ask for others opinions, share things we’ve learned, and look at each other’s work. It’s a great way to see what others are doing and get a different perspective on things. I’ve found that even talking to other coworkers who aren’t designers is a great way to clear your mind and start with a clean slate. Sometimes we hit that wall because we have personal stresses clouding our creativity, having people to turn to and let off steam to can be great for one’s ingenuity.
  1. Seek Inspiration - Creativity doesn’t usually come to someone just by sitting still. It’s important to explore different avenues in order to regain creativity. I find it helpful to look at the work of other creatives in the field. Many websites and creative blogs have great ideas for instructional designers. One of my personal favorites is articulate.com. Since a majority of our work is created in Articulate Storyline, I find many helpful solutions, ideas, and downloads within the Articulate community. They have their own community showcase, e-learning blog, as well as helpful tutorials and templates to help spark my creativity! If looking at others work doesn’t help than seeking out adventure and taking a break from the mundane is another great way to find inspiration. One can do this by changing their environment, listening to new music, visiting a new store, taking a trip to a museum, or going for a scenic drive. Exploring the unfamiliar can help widen one’s perspective and allow them to think more creatively.
  1. Don’t be Afraid of Failure- Everything you do doesn’t have to make sense, and you can’t be afraid to let go. Tapping into your subconscious is what makes us creative! Don’t be afraid to take an idea and go with it. Even if it doesn’t work in the end, at least you tried it and now you will be better prepared for next time you go seeking a creative idea. When I’m creating a course I test out many different ideas before deciding on that one good one. You know what they say, “Practice makes perfect.” Don’t be afraid to just test things out and see where it leads you. You may find that your original idea works, or you may find that your original idea has brought you to an even better one! Never giving up and not being afraid of failure is what helps to keep one’s creativity alive!

There you have it, my top 5 tips for finding your creative spark! Many of these tips can be applied to other professional fields as well, not just Instructional Design. They may even help you solve problems and spark creativity in your personal life as well! No matter how long you fight a creative block, you’ll eventually come out with something great that you can be proud of.