Finding yourself short on good ideas can be quite a predicament. As Scott Belsky, the visionary behind Behance once put it: “Ideas are like children: it’s not enough to conceive them; you have to nurture them.” In the grand scheme of things, creativity, and ideas are just meh without putting them into action. But before you can make magic happen, you need that initial spark. So, how can you find more ideas?
Generating ideas is no walk in the park, especially when faced with time constraints or the subject fails to ignite your passion. Those who have embarked on brainstorming a company name know this struggle all too well. It’s easy to feel like everything has already been done, leaving you with less-than-stellar options.
Let me show you a few methods that have proven effective in my quest for inspiration. These approaches are versatile and can be applied across a wide range of industries and topics to find more ideas.
Collect All Your Ideas
The “idea freezer” is a popular technique for nurturing creativity. It involves capturing various ideas that come to you in your everyday life and storing them for future use. You can choose another name for this space that resonates with you, such as a “knowledge base” or an “idea repository.” The key is to find a name that feels comfortable.
As for storing these ideas, it depends on your personal preferences. Numerous applications allow you to record and organize your ideas, e.g., Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, and Notion. The best part is that these tools operate in the cloud, enabling you to access them on any device. Alternatively, you can opt for a traditional pen and paper.
Remember to capture all the intriguing thoughts that come to your mind, whether from your reflections, something you read, or a conversation you had. Even if you’re uncertain about what to do with an idea at the moment, if it excites your imagination, jot it down. The idea is to create a treasure trove of inspiration for the future.
Did you stumble upon a fascinating study or did someone share an inspiring anecdote? Did a brilliant idea strike you while taking a shower? Capture it on paper. Don’t allow your ideas to slip through the cracks. I assure you that without documentation, you’ll forget about 90% of them.
When faced with a problem to solve, start by exploring your “idea freezer.” You might find handy information or a starting point that sparks a new idea. Remember, true creativity often emerges from remixing and combining different facts and ideas in unconventional ways. Having a repository of material to work with is invaluable when you want to find more ideas.
Creativity Loves Quantity
The New Yorker boasts a renowned reputation for its exceptional illustrations. They have a dedicated group of 50 artists with whom they collaborate regularly. Each artist submits approximately 10 ideas per week. Every Tuesday, the editorial team reviews 500 submissions and selects only 12 for publication.
It implies that even if you manage to become part of the exclusive circle of artists working with the magazine, the chances of your work being featured in print are remarkably slim.
Let’s revisit your brilliant idea that surfaced during yesterday’s walk with your dog. It has the potential to be truly outstanding, but there’s just one problem—it’s singular. Can it truly stand out among the millions of other ideas out there? The reality is that good ideas thrive on quantity. You require an abundance of ideas to increase the likelihood of discovering something truly remarkable.
It becomes crucial when creating regularly. Whether you’re blogging on a cheap WordPress server, composing music, or capturing photographs, you must engage in these pursuits frequently and strive for consistency. Not every endeavor will yield extraordinary results, but the more you delve into them, the greater the chances of stumbling upon hidden gems.
Creativity Flourishes in an Open Mindset
Often, the challenge of generating ideas stems from a narrow perspective. If you specialize in a particular field, it’s easy to confine yourself within its boundaries, limiting your vision.
Consider the scenario of being a graphic designer. It’s possible to become so engrossed in this realm that you create an information bubble, exclusively immersing yourself in design-related content, surrounding yourself with fellow designers, and attending design conferences.
However, it’s essential to recognize that a book entirely unrelated to design can shed more light on the subject than the fifteenth publication solely focused on graphics. Exposing yourself to diverse stimuli, experimenting with different activities, and cultivating an interest in various subjects is invaluable.
This broadened perspective facilitates the fusion of disparate domains in unconventional ways, ultimately fostering what others perceive as true creativity and ultimately finding more ideas.
Exercise Creativity Every Day
Generate 10 Ideas Daily
James Altucher, an American entrepreneur, has a simple method for nurturing creativity: each morning, he selects a problem and generates 10 ideas for its solution. The concept of “problem” is broad here—it can encompass ideas for books he could write or unconventional marketing strategies.
Above all, the crucial aspect is to approach it as an exercise. These ideas don’t necessarily need immediate solutions. You can jot down ideas for a car brand name or a catchy slogan for your favorite cereal. Everything is fair game, without restrictions or incorrect answers.
If you lack motivation to come up with ideas just for the sake of it, start a blog. This way, you can combine both exercises presented in this chapter into one: first, come up with 10 ideas, and then use one or more of them to write an article for your blog.
It’s akin to exercising your muscles. Regular training improves their condition and allows them to achieve more. Give it a try, and you’ll notice that throughout the day, more ideas will naturally flow into your mind as you train yourself to seek them out.
Write Three Pages Every Day
A similar approach is advocated by Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way.” She recommends dedicating time each morning to write three pages of text on any topic. It can be a stream of consciousness, capturing whatever thoughts come to mind. It may be more challenging than it appears, but once you find your rhythm, the words will effortlessly pour out.
Now, the question arises: why engage in such practices? For some, it serves as a form of self-expression and release; for others as an excellent method for generating ideas.
This spontaneous writing process bypasses self-awareness. You don’t overanalyze each word. Instead, you allow yourself to flow, and within that stream of text, you’ll discover intriguing ideas for solving the problems you’ve been contemplating.
Consider keeping a journal. It often becomes a repository for expressing various thoughts, providing a fertile ground for future ideas to flourish.
As I mentioned before, you can motivate yourself to practice writing by publishing what you write on a blog. You don’t need to invest in expensive hosting, the cheapest shared hosting will suffice. You can find it at UltaHost.
Books Worth Reading
Interested in delving deeper into this topic and wondering which book on creativity is the best? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but there are several outstanding titles that approach the subject from different perspectives.
If you’re struggling with generating ideas, in my opinion, it’s worth considering:
- Scientific Approach: “Ungifted” by Scott Barry Kaufman – This book draws heavily on scientific research to address the question: What contributes to creativity? The author identifies common traits among creative individuals and provides thorough explanations supported by experimental evidence.
- Practical Tools: “Thinkertoys” by Michael Michalko – I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking specific methods. It is full of exercises aimed at stimulating better ideas.
- Engaging and Entertaining: “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon – You can read this concise book in one evening; it focuses on remixing. The author shares insights on how to find more ideas by building upon or transforming existing ones. The writing style is light-hearted, accompanied by illustrations.
- Action-Oriented: “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky – Once you have an abundance of ideas, it becomes valuable to shift your focus toward executing them. The author offers practical guidance on transitioning from the idea stage to taking action.
To boost your creativity and find more ideas, start by building a knowledge repository filled with captivating information, anecdotes, and anything else that might prove valuable. Cultivate the habit of documenting these valuable discoveries, as failure to do so will cause you to forget the majority of them.
If you aspire to have good ideas, prioritize consistency and produce a high volume of ideas regularly. After all, creativity is a cognitive task performed by your brain, which functions like a muscle. It requires training. Experiment with simple exercises that stimulate idea generation, such as brainstorming 10 solutions to a randomly selected problem.
Initiate the practice of keeping a journal where you can freely jot down any thoughts that arise each day. Write spontaneously, devoid of analysis or pauses. Develop an interest in various fields and topics, not confining yourself solely to those aligned with your specialization. Explore diverse sources that can later serve as inspiration for selecting, combining, and transforming ideas.
Certainly, there are more technique-driven approaches, like brainstorming sessions. However, in this text, I intended to emphasize the foundational aspects and fundamental habits you can independently adopt and integrate into your life permanently to find more ideas.
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