Getting past when you can’t take your ideas further

Yesterday I wrote about how to explore ideas quickly by asking “What comes next?”

It’s a great way to recognize the importance any question has in the role of creative thinking. Questions lead us down new paths, good questions help us plot where we are on the route between powerfully creative ideas and subpar ones.

Landing at a place where there are seemingly no more questions for the work you’re doing can be dangerous.

“If you don’t have any more questions for what you’re doing, that doesn’t mean you’ve arrived at an end point. It means you aren’t looking in the right places.”

Answers that lead to a place where there aren’t any new questions to ask are dead-ends. As creatives, that means we’re either not stretching our thinking or we’re on a path that has few creative possibilities.

How do you overcome a place of stickiness with your ideas, when there just aren’t enough questions to explore?

One way is to backtrack, to look at the question you asked just before you got stuck, then rephrase that question or look at what other question(s) you could ask in its place.

If you find yourself knowing everything there is to know about the work or landscape around your ideas, it might be that you’re just really that smart. It’s more likely, however, that you’ve led yourself astray and have naively accepted the fact that there’s nowhere else to go from where you are now.

For creativity, there is no stopping point. Questions are the guiding points that help us explore where to go from here.


And what comes next?

Do you fully understand the question?

One question to get you through creative slumps

Photo by Benny Lin.