What Cognitive Neuroscience Tells Us About Creative Thinking

Unsurprisingly, cognitive neuroscience researchers have been taking a deep dive into the mechanics of creative thinking—and how to create the conditions for innovative thinking. Blue sky thinking: It’s a method of thinking that’s all about embracing innovation and possibilities, and is completely unfettered by the realities of executing a project or campaign. It’s also often the first step in the process creative agencies take when generating their next big idea or blockbuster campaign for their clients.

In my role as a content strategist with Fortune 500 companies, I’m often developing a dozen or more content campaigns, go-to-market strategies, and sales generation campaigns every quarter. In wildly divergent industries, and with different customer profiles, it often feels like I’m expected to turn on the creative tap and let the ideas flow in several directions at once.

What happens in that space between looking at the completely blank canvas of possibilities for shaping a campaign and creating something tangible enough for writers, artists, editorial teams, and data people to execute? And what happens—between developing multiple campaigns and pursuing writing projects—when the tap simply runs dry? When both your financial well-being and your personal identity depend in part or in total on your creative abilities, the uncomfortable reality is that you simply don’t have time to lose to creative blockages. Here’s a closer look at what the latest cognitive research suggests about creative burnout and how to prevent it.

Image attribution: Joshua Earle

Can Creativity Thrive on a 24/7 Cycle?

Recently, I was working on an in-depth campaign strategy. Preparing the creative brief involved approximately twenty hours of interviews (and then combing through their transcripts), reading a couple of thousand pages of reports, and conducting a detailed business analysis and competitive market assessment. It was full immersion, and contacts were…

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