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16 ways to smash creative block


Creative Sparks is one of 30 techniques included in our PLAYBOOK, the free toolkit for creative thinkers.


We all hit an idea void from time to time. It could be the blank page at the start of the day, or when fresh ideas simply fizzle out. It’s like hitting a brick wall. No-matter what we try, nothing new emerges. Frustration grows and simply adds to the problem.


We have collated 16 prompts which are effective at smashing through those block and re-igniting fresh streams of ideas.


Creative idea sparks help stimulate, re-energise and even redirect the mind. They ignite idea flow. They are great when you’ve exhausted all the initial obvious possibilities or when you have hit a wall. They work by triggering bi-sociations or other unexpected associative connections.


These are carefully selected questions and prompts designed to help with the creative process. Pick two or three at random to explore your problem from refreshing angles and jolt possible new connections.


The Creative Sparks worksheet provides all the prompts and questions you need. You can download the worksheet below.


Spend no more than 15 minutes on any one question, then move on to another. Ideas are generally best listed on a wall, mind map or spider diagram where everyone can view and contribute.

Creative Sparks worksheet
Creative Sparks worksheet

What ideas do these spark?

Break a rule
Go against convention, break with tradition and discard the rulebook.
Quiz assumptions
Question untested beliefs, shake foundations and posit fanciful alternatives.
Call on a superhero
How would superheroes use their powers to deal with the problem?
Less is more
What can you remove, reduce, eliminate, minimise or simplify?
Be quite contrary
Think in opposites; imagine and visualise contradictory alternatives.
Swap and replace
Exchange elements for different ways of achieving the same function.
Shift the scale
Magnify or minify the whole, or any of its parts. Focus in and zoom out.
What if….?
Ask the unthinkable, imagine the absurd, propose the unexpected.
What else is it like?
Describe the problem through metaphors, analogies and similes. What works for them?
Close the box
Use only what you have available and to hand right here, right now.
No limits
Imagine you have all the money, time and experts in the world. What now?
Be audacious
What would be bold, courageous, and high-risk, but might just work?
If not this, why not?
Learn from answers that are wrong or fail and why they don’t work.
Make it worse
What would achieve the opposite result? How can you reverse that?
Say it differently
Rephrase and reframe the problem from different perspectives and levels.
Push the limits of absurdity through nonsensical and improbable answers.


The worksheet is included in our free PLAYBOOK, a collection of 30 of our favourite tools and techniques.

Download them all now in the PLAYBOOK.


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