I couldn’t think of anything particularly sensible to post on here, today, so I’m going to run through an exercise that I was told of at Watford/West Herts College, on the copywriting and art direction course.
There will be times when – whatever industry you’re in or whatever project you’re working on – you’ll be completely stuck for ideas, and staring angrily at a screen or a blank pad won’t make those ideas come any quicker.
I always try to refer back to this exercise, or similar ones, when I’m in such a situation: picture a brick – a common or garden red house brick. Not particularly inspiring, right?
Now think of it as anything else than ‘just a brick’. Try to think of 20 alternative uses for it.
Here’s my latest attempt;
1. A picnic table for ants.
2. A scaled down version of a larger brick.
3. A makeshift codpiece.
4. A mini platform for short public speakers.
5. The ideal speed dating partner for another brick.
6. A paperweight.
7. A water trough (where the dip is) for a very small pony.
8. A chin prop for that post-3pm lull, in the office.
9. A replacement pestle, when you realise that none of Jamie’s meals can be made in 30 minutes and smash the cr*p out of the mortar.
10. An anchor for a small boat.
11. A low maintenance pet.
12. A birthday/Christmas present for a partner you’re trying to get rid of.
13. A permanent mohawk, when gaffer-taped to your chin and round your head.
14. A light snack for the Rock Biter from The Neverending Story.
15. A snowboard for someone with tiny feet.
16. A chock for a unicycle.
17. Relief from headaches – drop on foot, forget about headache.
18. A weight to hold down a helium balloon.
19. A winner’s podium for the Lilliputian Olympic Games.
20. A meat tenderiser.
These are okay. I’ve seen better answers – my favourite being, a business card for bodybuilders – but the point is simply to free up your mind a bit.
The thing that usually stops you cracking a brief/project straight away is the fact that it comes with guidelines or parameters, causing you to instantly restrain your thinking, along the lines of ‘hmmm can’t do that because…’ .or ‘this wouldn’t quite work because’. This stifles your initial creativity.
The brick test (or any other similar exercises out there) gives you free rein to go as far and wide with your thinking as possible: there are endless possibilities, you can’t really mess things up, and you haven’t got heavy things like budgets and time frames hanging over your head.
There’s no reason, once you’ve freed your mind a little and showed what you can do with unrestrained thinking, why you can’t transfer that same thinking to the original project you were working on.
Give it a try. See what happens.