In the advertising world, we all want to come up with the “sticky” ideas, the messages that consumers just can’t shake. But at some point in the process, it’s easy to get stuck.

We’ve all been there—hung up, treading water, can’t pass go. Maybe you’re stuck on a project right now, so you turned to your inbox for inspiration—definitely NOT to procrastinate. Well then, you’re in luck. Here’s how to get unstuck on the way to marketing success.

ID the problem

Muddy challenges are tougher to crack than clear ones. So when you find yourself at a sticking point, it can help to ask: What’s difficult about this? Or put another way: Why doesn’t this success just happen naturally? Why aren’t consumers flocking to stores to buy this product already? If you can find the real issue, you’ll be better positioned to solve it.

Phone a friend

Consult someone who might otherwise not touch the project at that moment—a writer, account executive, digital strategist, someone who may be stretched outside of their traditional role but just might have a unique perspective. Get into conversations that could reveal new paths to proceed.

Oh, and don’t actually use a phone. Go to them in person. It’s a wonderful way to collaborate (plus, they may have snacks at their desks).

Walk away

Don’t quit, but do shift gears. Work on another project entirely or just stop working. Literally go for a walk. As long as you’ve invested mental energy in starting the task, stepping away could help you find a far better way of finishing it.

As psychologist Adam Grant shared in his TED talk on original thinkers, “They are quick to start, but they’re slow to finish.” It takes time and separation to have non-linear thoughts that solve big puzzles. Don’t think you have the time? Yes, you do. Go. Now! (But not yet. Keep reading.)

Go for quantity

It’s easy to feel stalled when you’re looking for one perfect solution. But synthesis is simply not simple. So start by doing the opposite. It helps to get all the ideas out of your head (and then a couple of other ideas hiding behind those).

Whether you’re writing a strategy, building a connections plan, or even writing copy, it’s powerful to look across all of your ideas to identify patterns. You may be surprised to find a select few themes emerge that have existed all along, or even one singular thought that unifies everything.

I’m not going to suggest you mix all of these ingredients together, but… crystalizing the problem, then going on a walk with a colleague to talk about the game last night, and then coming up with a whole slew of new ideas, well it just may change your life. Or at least get you unstuck.

Do pass go and have a breakthrough weekend, everyone!

– Your onward and upward friends at Brokaw.

It takes time and separation to have non-linear thoughts that solve big puzzles.

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