Since I have started studying again I have learnt a lot about the creative process. This is the best advice I could think of that I have learnt through experience and advice that has been imparted to me from my peers and teachers.
Your first idea may not be your best one. This is something I struggled with for a while. I would go “eureka!” when I had one idea that fit the bill and just go from there. Now I know to do blue sky thinking, which means that anything goes. Write down as many ideas that you can think of, even if they seem ridiculous because this part of the process expands your possibilities and frees up your mind. That initial idea may still be the best one, but at least you explored other possibilities so you know it.
Think about what you are going to do before diving in. Before you start the practical application of your idea, have a long hard think about how you are going to go about it. Often when I dive into a project without thinking about it, I find down the track that there was a much easier way to do it and I had wasted so much of my time. Now I consider the time I am thinking about a project equates to the time working on project.
Take a break and get some perspective. When your work is getting to be a grind and you can’t see it clearly anymore, it’s time to take a break. A ten minute break will suffice to clear your head and think about something else. When you return you will be able to look at your work critically and notice more about the general feel of it. My drawing teacher once said to turn your drawing upside-down, take a break and look at it with fresh eyes when your return. You will see it from a different angle and perhaps see what is wrong or missing from your composition.
Get feedback from others. Creating something that is your own idea and style is an incredibly personal thing. Having others critique your creation is one of the hardest things you will probably have to do, but it needs to be done. I guess this is also about getting perspective, but this time it is somebody else’s. Whether it is positive or negative feedback, you really have to evaluate it and also think about the person critiquing you. Try and get feedback from someone that can be honest with you and from people in your target audience.
Write you ideas down. Ideas can come to you any time and you will often forget them if you don’t write it down. Most of the time you won’t be able to act on your idea until maybe years later and there is little chance that you will remember that brilliant moment when you got the idea. Right now I have about six ideas for games and have written them all down in a notebook so when I am ready to actually start creating games I will have those little gems up my sleeve.