Hitting a wall

Posted: December 7, 2015

Has your mused moved on? Your inspiration expired? Is the blank page remaining inexplicably pristine?

Here’s what I do faced with a looming deadline and no ideas.

I panic.

Then, when I finally claw my way back to the surface, I go ‘AFK’ (as the gamers put it).

Away From Keyboard seems counter-intuitive when there’s work to be put down, but the physical world is your ally here. Channel your inner hipster in a coffee shop … people watch at the airport … go all Jackson Pollock and splash paint on a floor. If you’re moving you may just bump into a solution.

Didn’t work? You can panic a bit more if you want, but I normally eat. Beautiful, perfectly cooked, wonderfully presented food. Made by people who care if the berries were picked at dawn at exactly 4 degrees centigrade. Absorbing passion by osmosis is the name of the game here so the more in touch the chef the more the food will reawaken whatever it is that gets creative people out of bed.

Tahier Variwa

OK you’re coffee’d out, covered in paint and overfed, so it’s time to do what you should have done in the first place. Find other smart people and talk to them.

There’s something about the energy of smart people that gets the sparks sparking. While you’re talking doodle. Sketch without any attempt at technique. I listen and ask questions then I doodle some more. Usually in the scribbles lies the starting point of an idea.

If all else fails I put down something, anything. Then I think of one single way to improve it. Then another one. And another. Slowly you find you are working your way into a virtuous circle of useful production. Before you know it the job will be done and the next pile of job bags will be on your desk.

At this point you go back to reaction A. You panic.

Tahier Variwa is head of conceptual design for RADAR, which is really an excuse to think about everything and anything. RADAR is a before the line, beyond the line, outside the line kind of agency, which is why he likes it.