Did you ever build a sandcastle as a kid, then watch hopelessly as the water calmly swept away all of your hard work? Welcome to the creative department of an advertising agency.

As a creative, it doesn’t get more frustrating than when your ideas – once flying high and full of opportunity – are blown to bits and forever forgotten. The number of ideas and concepts that never see the light of day in an ad agency setting is staggering. And for those individuals who put in the time to brainstorm those concepts, it can be frustrating, disappointing and mentally taxing.

So what can you do? Should you just throw in the towel, burn all evidence and start living “off the grid”? No way. We asked SKAR creatives for some of their best tips for how to fight back against creative block and rejection. Here’s what we found:

Don’t Go Falling in Love (With Ideas)

Falling in love is easy. Heartbreak sucks. These notions apply directly to the creative process. When brainstorming, it’s crucial to not get attached to a single idea as it can be dismissed almost immediately when pitching it up the ladder. It’s natural to favor some ideas over others, but it’s best to expect nothing and then be pleasantly surprised if an idea is well-received.

“If you think strategically about how each concept will benefit clients and their brands and present those benefits,” said Katie Ferge, account manager, “it’s easier to let go if the idea isn’t chosen knowing that you did everything you could to present it in its best light.”

So say it until it clicks. “Don’t get attached. Don’t get attached. Don’t get attached.” *single tear runs down cheek*

Expose Yourself … to New Things, That Is!

Stray from anything that’s within your comfort zone. Read something outside your usual genre, listen to music you hate, drive a different route to work, exercise (if you dare). According to Mark Carpenter, vice president of creative strategy, “All these different inputs will filter into your subconscious and come bubbling up when you need them most.”

Spontaneity is the birthplace of creativity, and becoming more well-rounded never hurt anyone!

Eyes on the Prize

Think about what you are actually promoting with your ideas and campaign. Write it down and stick it up in a place where you’ll see it when brainstorming. Go back to that main idea repeatedly in order to stay focused and not stray from the ultimate goals.  

It’s also important to remember that ideas are so much more than words and flashy designs. “The goal is much bigger than any headline or tagline or individual creative execution. The goal is to move people through the power of thought expressed in sights and sounds, words and pictures,” said Joleen David, president. Finding the perfect way to weave concept and target together will equal victory in any agency.


Clear Your Mind

Or as copywriter/editor Bill Roberts put it, “Cleanse the mental palate.” Whatever pops into your head, whether constructive or nonsense, should be written down or shouted out loud to clear your headspace for the real magic to begin. Get it out of your system ASAP. Getting things out in the open also holds the potential for yielding new, out-of-the-box ideas.

Avoid the Poison

Nothing is more frustrating than when you baby an idea with TLC, then make the mistake of pitching it to someone who isn’t interested in listening, or worse, won’t attempt to see your grand vision. Greg Ahrens, co-creative director said it best: “Stay away from naysayers, doubters and people who are afraid to take a chance or try new things“. Naysayers can put permanent strain your creative muscles, so avoid these one-track minds if possible!

If you are struggling for fresh ways to stay creative, contact SKAR. We’d love to share experiences and help you stay on target with your goals.


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