Coming up with a good, creative idea is the first step to writing a fantastic blog post. But if you are like most writers—especially those that write articles for Internet publications on a regular basis—you know how difficult it can be to come up with creative ideas day after day. Sometimes you sit down to your computer and the creative juices just start flowing and you bust out a well-written article in thirty minutes flat. Other times, it seems like you stare at your computer screen for two hours straight and only type a couple of sentences.
However, coming up with unique ideas on a continual basis is possible if you approach it in the correct way. Don’t expect to sit down at your desk and for great ideas to come right out of the blue. It takes a little work on your part to come with these ideas. Here are 5 helpful tips to help you get your creative juices flowing:
#1- Create An Inspiration File
Using pictures for inspiration!
It is common for artists to create an inspiration file as a brainstorming technique, but it can work for writers as well. To get started, simply take out a few old magazines or books and browse for images, articles or graphics that inspire you. Cut these images out and keep them in a place that is easily accessible.
You can keep these images in a notebook, in an accordion file, on a bulletin board or in a file on your computer if your images are digital. Keep in mind that you will want to regularly update this file to keep it from getting stale.
When you are experience writer’s block, pull out your inspiration file and glance through it. Pick one image or article and study it. You will be amazed at how quickly an idea (or many ideas!) can come from a simple photograph or magazine article.
#2-Get Offline for Awhile
As a writer, you probably spend a large portion of your day at your computer. And when you are not on your laptop, you are probably busy checking your email on your phone or surfing the Internet on your iPad. But this constant buzz of technological interaction can actually kill your creativity if you don’t take a break once in awhile.
If you are having trouble coming up with an idea, step away from your computer and take a break. Here are some activities that may help get your creative juices flowing:
- Get out of the office —or your house if you work from home—and go for a walk. If possible, get out of the city and go for a walk in nature. Can’t escape the concrete jungle? Go for a walk in a park or a botanical garden.
- Call up a creative friend or family member or start up a conversation with a co-worker. Bouncing ideas off another person often helps you see something in a new light.
- Go for a drive in a relatively unfamiliar area of town and take note of what you see as you drive. Just don’t get lost and keep your easy on the road as much as possible!
- Take a quick cat nap.
- Grab a nutritious bite to eat; it is incredibly difficult to think clearly if your stomach is growling. However, this does not give you permission to grab a candy bar from the vending machine. Instead, opt for a piece of fruit or some type of lean protein.
#3- Get it Out On Paper
A writing technique that you probably haven’t tried since elementary school is free writing. Can’t recall what free writing entails? Luckily, it is pretty simply. Take out a clean piece of paper and write down whatever comes to your mind for a set period of time (usually from 1 to 5 minutes). Don’t worry about spelling, topic, or grammar. Just let your mind run wild and your hands go free. Much of what you produce will be unusable, but getting it out of the way will help you focus in on the good ideas.
#4- Do Productive Research
You probably read the word ‘research’ on this strategy and instantly starting rolling your eyes. But don’t be so quick to dismiss this idea. Research can be unproductive, but can also produce some great ideas. It all depends on how you go about it.
Start your research by looking through article directories. Search for articles that are written on similar topics to what you commonly write about. How can you put a twist on these articles? How can you make them new, different or better?
Take a look through your back log of old articles that you never finished. That article you started six months ago but never finished might be more applicable now. Have the introductory paragraph written to a half dozen articles? Finish the one that looks the most promising.
Also, take a look at what your competitors/colleagues are writing about. Great ideas often come from taking an interesting piece that someone has already written and adding to it in some way. Additionally, take a look at what is happening in the news. News items can result in some great opinion pieces.
#5- Create a Work Space That Inspires Creativity
If your work space is cluttered and uninviting, it can be difficult to feel inspired. Turn your working environment into a place where you feel happy and relaxed. Put up pictures of family and friends or places that you hope to visit someday. Put up a piece of art that is bright and colorful and reflects your personality. Invest in some candles or air fresheners in your favorite scent. Chamomile, jasmine and lavender are all calming scents and can help you to relax.
You will also want to make sure that your space is clean and well organized. If your desk is covered with stacks of paper and old soda cans, you will likely be too worried about the mess to focus on writing. If your space is an absolute mess, invest a couple of hours in deep-cleaning the space and organizing your papers. And to keep the space looking clean, spend a couple of minutes at the end of every day tidying things up. That way your space will be clean and well-organized when you return in the morning.