Sparking creativity through the power of play

In a recent article on The Drum, Creative Directors shared their behaviours and habits that help to make them creative. They listed things such as running for 10 miles, an Artline 90 Marker Pen, and even adding a little spice to meetings (heated discussions not Nando’s – although, probably still a good idea).  

As someone who has worked in branding as a designer, and now in social media, being creative quickly and creating unique campaigns has become a core skill, developed over my 7 years of industry experience. However, I do have one natural advantage – I’m neurodivergent. It’s my superpower, my gift, and my red pill for creativity (if you excuse the nerdy Matrix reference). But over the years of being asked for creative ideas and to let loose on projects, I’ve learned there are methods to how I reach creative concepts so quickly.

Inspired by this article, I’d love to share with you the various methods I use to quickly generate ideas, so if you’re interested, let’s get into it…

Firstly, you just HAVE to let go of all embarrassment – what is it anyway? Not all your ideas will be great, but they will almost always lead to great things. I’m never too shy to throw out ideas and keep the ball rolling.

Now you’re ready to be your most creative self with no limits, it’s time to play like a child – I told you you’d need to let go of embarrassment! Children are inquisitive, always asking why, and always seeing things from a different perspective, so these are what I focus on first:

My go-to games to play are ‘but why?’, which will help you dig deeper, and ‘what if?’ which will help you see from a new perspective. Here are some examples:

But why do you exist? 

But why do people choose you? 

But why do you do it differently? 

But why is your product/service the way it is? 

But why does it have to be this way?

What if you told the story of your product’s journey from the perspective of the product instead of you or the customer? 

What if you were selling in a different time period? 

What if you focus on the parallel universe where your product/service doesn’t exist?

What if you focus on the emotion of having/not having your product/service?

What if we stretch the truth and exaggerate the benefits in a humorous way?

What if we relate it to something totally unrelated?

Sidenote – you know that practice makes perfect? Well, why wait for the moment you’re put on the spot to come up with creative ideas to start flexing that muscle? I try to seek out play in all aspects of my life. One of my favourite activities (which I’m now getting a bit of a rep for) are my trips to B&Q. 

I will pace the isles, find bizarre products and create whole backstories for why they exist, how they were invented and who is out to buy them. Sometimes it gets really weird and I almost always end up laughing at this ridiculous story, but it does keep me on my toes for real-life quick-fire creativity. It’s a bit like improv – but with creative ideas. 

Finally, when using these questions, which often come out at 78mph in whichever order, the last rule I have is to always verbalise ideas. Even if you’re on your own, saying ideas aloud helps you to hear them back and jump straight onto the next train of thought.

If you find yourself lingering on an idea for too long, ask another question. If you’re stuck, ask another question, just keep up the pace and ideas will flow.

Just remember, there’s no such thing as a bad idea, and being creative is all about being free so if you’re in a group setting it’s crucial to let everyone speak and leave judgement at the door!!

Now I fancy a Nandos-themed meeting….