How to get creative when you hit a brick wall

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You know the feeling. You've been staring at your computer screen for two hours. No amount of browsing the web is offering any inspiration. You're on your third cup of tea and nope. Creativity just isn't striking like it usually does.

You're having a bad day, and you desperately need the ideas to start flowing. So how do you get creative thinking back to come up with the goods successfully?

Whether you're a writer stuck on that opening line, a graphic designer struggling to find the right colour palette or an artist staring blankly at a lump of clay, these top tips should do the trick.

Step away

First and foremost, step away from your workspace to take some time out. Get outside for some fresh air. Give yourself a decent break and try not to think about work. You'll be surprised how quickly new ideas will spring into your head, and you'll soon be rushing back to your desk.

Do some exercise

When I hit a brick wall, I find a good workout at my local gym helps. I tend to get frustrated when I lack focus, and it clouds my vision further. If I'm pounding that treadmill and making 'Mr T grrr faces' in the mirror when lifting weights (an impressive 4 pounds kids), I'm keeping my mind clear, and it allows me to focus and come up with the answers I've been seeking. I often frighten my husband when I return from the gym. I'm usually fired up and bursting with ideas.

Carry a notebook

When inspiration strikes, you need to be able to record your ideas and fast! Use your iPhone's Notebook facility or buy a beautiful notepad, and carry it with you everywhere.

Get a mentor

Talking to someone who's 'been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and got the embarrassing ride photo' will help to spark creativity. They might suggest things that you'd never thought of. A good friend of mine has recently acquired a mentor to help with his first novel. Every time he's been to see her, he comes away feeling fired up and positive, with a renewed sense of purpose. It's great to see him making progress. My advice? Get a mentor!

Attend regular networking events

If you work from home, it can get lonely. And with no one to bash ideas around with, it can hold back your creativity. In which case, go check out something like to find local networking groups where you'll meet similar creatives. Two heads are better than one, and you'll be able to talk to people who are in the same boat.

Attend or watch lectures

We have so much learning at our fingertips these days. Scour the web to find video tutorials, lectures or filmed conferences that will boost your creativity and help address any missing skills you might have. There's nothing more inspiring than learning about creativity. Check out TED and 99u. Or there's Google Talks.

Read a book

While it's great to boost skills and learn from others when it comes to reading books – I advise going for fiction instead of any learning materials. Why? Because sometimes you need to give your brain a break. Stories take our minds to other worlds and allow us to recharge our creativity.

Get some sleep

Working long hours? Not getting to bed until very late? Stop! It's time to chill and get some decent sleep. The brain needs time to recharge and process everything you've done in a day. Ensure you get to bed at a reasonable hour and get those essential eight hours.

Go back to the drawing board

If all else fails and you're still stuck on ideas, get a blank piece of paper, some colourful pens and create your own 'mind map'. Erase all your thinking about the task at hand and start again. After scribbling down some ideas, you'll most likely have a Eureka moment. Because sometimes, it's only when we get our ideas on paper that the problem starts to unravel.