Creativity On The Spot

“Hey, we’re going to need those (fill in the blank with a creative endeavor) in a couple of hours” For many of us, those words are enough for a heart attack or a slight panic attack at the least. Ideally, we would all have ample time to get into a creative space, weed out bad ideas, and pick only the most polished ones. But, we think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been put in tight spots, the ones where you need jam out work, but it seems like you’ve misplaced your creativity. Worry sets in, which only makes grasping at ideas seem like trying to hold onto a fistful of powdery white sand. Take a deep breath; we’ve got you covered, at least for next time. Check out how to loosen the valve on your creativity.

“Inspiration can come from anywhere, all you have to do is open up your mind to capture it.”

Flood Gates

Looks like a water-related metaphor was a good transition. When your creativity flows like the drops from a leaky faucet, open the floodgates and pour everything you have into what you’re doing. Brain dump, word vomit, nonsense, scrabble, chicken scratch; it all counts right now because you’ve only got an hour and a half left to bust out whatever you’re working on. Ever heard “no idea is a bad idea”? Well, while some are definitely better than others, when you’re on the spot, cash in on any idea that you have. In one of our earlier blog posts on scheduling your creativity, we talked a bit about getting into a creative space: “By getting your thoughts down and sifting through them all, you allow a more free flowing process to take place, rather than focusing on the rigidity of refining one idea at a time.”

Steal Like and Artist (like this headline)

Alright don’t actually steal anything, but come to the understanding that being purely original is incredibly difficult, especially under a time constraint. If you haven’t already (which if you’re any kind of creative you definitely should), check out Austin Kleon’s “Steal Like an Artist”. In this book, he writes about the notion that nothing is original and we all kind of… borrow ideas from each other. With this view, you can pull in various elements from your inspiration to swirl your thoughts in with someone else’s, creating something new. Borrowing aspects of a design, words from a sentence, or angles from a photo you can start to see where originality comes into play. We even borrowed some words from one of our own blog posts With that being said, it’s important to note where, when, and in what medium your inspiration comes to you. Check out how to pick up on it below.

Brain Training

A bit more long term than the first two suggestions, rewiring your brain to pick up on the design, writing, fonts, colors, images and literally anything you can pull into your work will make those quick ideas flow easier. Of course, this brain training comes in different forms for everyone; some might take photos while others might carry around notebooks. For us over here at Harbr, we’re fans of digital note-taking. From the note apps on our phones to Evernote, we’re constantly trying to find apps for info dumping. Really, being present with where you are at helps facilitate picking up on the potential inspiration around you. Maybe a smell took you back to a time when you were a child or a texture made you think of a string of words that you thought was interesting. Similarly to opening the floodgates, collecting tidbits and scraps from the world around you can help you become an incredibly witty creative. Inspiration can come from anywhere, all you have to do is open up your mind to capture it.


We know the feeling, but it’s important to just relax, breathe, and try to put out the best work that you can in the time you’ve been given. No one can really ask for much more from you. It’s also important to understand that in a crunch, what you put out may not be the most brilliant thing you’ve ever worked on, so don’t beat yourself up. Throw all of your ideas into a notebook, pull in from outside sources, and perhaps most importantly, train yourself to pick up on the things that you can stow away to pull from later.

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