If you’re like me, coming up with ideas and content is difficult, and what’s even more difficult is learning where an idea came from.
However, from a bit of practice, I have slowly started to notice the best ways for me to not only get myself in the proper mindset to coming up with ideas, but also the best ways to hold onto those ideas and build a supply of future content.
What I’ve noticed is it’s not enough to want to have good ideas. You have to figure out how you come up with ideas and how to harness that mindset along with the recording of the ideas you do create.
Figure Out Where Your Ideas Come From
Although this will be different for everyone, the first thing you must look for in yourself is where and when your ideas actually come to you.
This can be tricky to find because you may have already been in that mindset before, but don’t know how to return to it.
Whether you have trouble due to lack of motivation or self-doubt, there does exist that portal into your idea mindset which you must strive to find and harness to your control.
If you can access that mindset where ideas come naturally too you. You have to really pay attention to what it is you are doing at the time and what you are paying attention to.
A lot of people might get their ideas from taking a walk around the block, or sitting in a silent room with nothing but their thoughts. But if this rarely works for you and you need more of a trigger to get ideas flowing, learn what that trigger is.
If you are a reddit user, maybe it is a certain obscure subreddit that really interests you and has a lot of posts you find yourself attracted to.
It’s all about finding what gets you to think of expanding on an already existing idea and giving yourself room to make those ideas.
Develop A Method To Create Ideas
Once you have your method for inspiration, you have to learn to create your ideas.
For reference, I follow the method above, where a lot of my ideas come from reading posts on reddit that get me thinking and wanting to expand further on an idea. The same can be said for reading others blogs.
I look for things that get me thinking about how that idea came to them and what else can be said about it. For me, it’s about finding a post that triggers a conversation in my head with myself. If I feel I can continue the conversation, that is what I will most likely be writing about.
Along with knowing how your ideas come to you and using that to your advantage, you have to really get into thinking how you will take those ideas and create something out of it. It’s not enough to be creating ideas and never act on any of them.
Even if you have the best ideas in the world, nothing will happen if you don’t act on any of them. Furthering this idea, if you never take action, your flow of ideas will be easily cut off.
To do this, you will oftentimes have to look at your schedule, or record what you do throughout the day and dedicate some time to your ideas. For instance, most of my articles are made on Friday and Saturday. These are the days that I have the most free time and find going on a rant for an article is comforting, especially if I have nothing else to do that day.
If you’ve ever read The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, you’ll know that he has an idea I’ve been using myself to get into action and produce something. The idea is that what most people assume is that when creating something, it starts with inspiration to do something. An idea. Then following that is motivation. Wanting to further that idea. And finally, action, the actual creation of your idea.
Now this may sound like a counter to what I have said so far in this article, but you have to take into account the idea process I’m talking about is when you have already taken some action on something, but find yourself in a road block of not getting any ideas.
The book however, mentions that the process of inspiration, motivation, and action is not valid at all. You will end up waiting around until the inspiration comes, and with no practice, you will have no idea how to accomplish that idea.
The proper order is actually as follows:
By following in this order, the initial action, even if you have no idea what you are attempting to create, will give you an idea. It’s like going into Photoshop and playing around with a picture, you don’t know what you are trying to do until you think of something cool to do because of the way a certain filter makes the picture appear.
It’s essentially understanding that to get inspiration, action has to be taken first, otherwise you are waiting around for nothing. Motivation coming last because after your action leads you to an idea or inspiration, you are now much more motivated to attempt to do this one thing.
Get a Journal/Notebook
What I use was recommended to me through an article on Medium, a bullet journal. Basically, whatever you can use to write down your ideas and save them for later.
You don’t ever want to run into the problem of having a great idea, trying to remember it for later, and forgetting it once you are trying to act on it.
A journal not only gives you the space to write down ideas, but to keep adding to those ideas and record whatever you are thinking at the time. A lot of the time, I find what I think of when I have my idea is the basis for what I want to talk about. But if I just write down the title or basic idea with no further descriptions, I’ll read my own recordings and be lost.
I just recently got a few bullet journals from amazon for very cheap and have already started to break in my first journal, having this article actually be the first planned out piece I’ve written in it.
So far, I’ve found having a notebook is good for notes and writing sentences and paragraphs, but something like a bullet journal gives you space to label what is important, gives the proper amount of room for what you want to write, and also gives a very eye pleasing aesthetic to your ideas.
This gives you room to work on your ideas in an environment you might otherwise not be able to. Having a bullet journal now, I can work on ideas that I have away from my laptop. If I’m in a boring lecture, hearing something I know is irrelevant to the course material, I can pull out my journal and get my brain going on ideas I want to publish.
If you’re not one for writing too much, and still want the comfort of technology, the other place I hold all my ideas is a google doc that I have on my gmail account.
Having this gives me, not only a place to write, but a written document that I can access on any piece of technology like a laptop in a library. It’s having the cloud hold your ideas so you know you won’t lose them, even if your computer or laptop breaks apart. Your ideas are still safe.
Along with a bullet journal, having a google doc can give you a place to write your ideas when you don’t have the opportunity to think further into the idea, but just need it written down. Whether you are working at your desk and an idea pops into your head, but you can’t just whip out your journal and start working on the idea, so you store it with a collection of ideas as a list on a google doc.
I first started doing this before my first ever article which was not too long ago, but even this article idea was in the ones I first came up with when I made the document. I just started typing random ideas for articles that came to mind, some similar, some obscure, but things I know I could write a lot about.
Essentially, this document gives you a way to have a very long, and unorganized – if it so happens to be like mine – list of random ideas. Some that you may never touch on, but just to have a mine of ideas you can look through and pick one that sounds interesting to you that day.
With all of these methods and ideas in mind, implementing them and giving yourself room to think and develop ideas is the first step to getting what you want to actually create to appear there in front of you.