Sometimes I have a lot of ideas. Sometimes I have no ideas.
Sometimes my ideas are good, and sometimes they are embarrassingly bad.
My ideas aren’t always forever flowing, as is the case with most people, and sometimes that can be really frustrating. Especially for someone like me who likes to write but ends up being too indecisive on what to write about because my choices of topics are limited if I don’t have a lot of ideas saved up.
However, that struggle has lead me to come up with my own plans for fixing this idea blockage. I have a few techniques that have lead to me always be able to at least write something.
Being In A Barrier Of Creativity
I may have mentioned it in more of my posts, but a lot of my ideas and topics start from either my bullet journal, where I can structure out a blog post, or my google doc, where I can quickly list things that pop into my head.
As the holidays have started to fill up my schedule, I’ve become a bit lazy with writing. When it comes time to write, I spend more time trying to actually write, and not much time on the idea process.
I’ve been looking through my lists, seeing a topic or idea I can cover, and bam, that’s what we are going to be talking about today.
However, my idea pool has started to run low on the higher quality topics, and now more topics I feel are a bit redundant to what I’ve talked about before. I end up frustrated and trying to come up with ideas on the spot, and that is something that really really messes with me.
I always try and be prepared, but the times when I’m not, playing catch-up is something I hate doing.
If I can go right into something and have been preparing for it for a few hours and doing mental gymnastics about how to approach it, that’s great for me. But if I have to sit, make sure my mind isn’t drifting off and list some more topics to choose one of them and focus on that, I really scramble my flow and ideas.
As I said, it’s in part because of the holidays but is still attributed to me being lazy, however I do have the solution to my own problem. I have a few techniques that I am going to share that can prevent this barrier from happening.
#1 Turn Questions Into Ideas
What I mean by that is frequently we read articles that start with a question that we feel like we need to know the answer to.
Are setting long term goals actually slowing us down?
Is this one thing we all do actually a bad habit?
Is there a quicker and better way to solving this problem?
It’s questions like these that might inspire a click on an article, but the same thought, the same question, is quite often what the author had as their own question.
If you do a research paper and find out something surprisingly interesting about a topic, you might have the title being the main pulling point for trying to bring in attention.
Having the actual question be the topic is where a lot of the distinction for what audience will be attracted to it and make writing it quite easier.
Taking the title of this post for example, How Can I Grow My Pool Of Ideas?, is actually a question I had myself. I may believe I also know the answer, but that didn’t stop the question from being a good basis for what to write about.
I do this a lot because quite literally, a lot of my posts are questions that I come up with on my google doc and list out things that I think about that intrigue me.
It can work in your favor if you are trying to write something and instead of doing The History of the Lochness Monster, you had a question of your own like, What Would Happen if the Lochness Monster Actually Existed?
#2 Do Nothing But List
Having a list of ideas and topics is great, but never expanding on the list just results in choosing the best off the list, and then the second best, and then the third best until you start not liking what you have left to write about.
Expanding the pool takes work which is why to make it easier and a lot more effective, pay attention to when you start getting ideas and list it, then see if that sparks another idea.
Most of my ideas come to me in bursts. I get one question or one idea that could be elaborated on with another question or idea. They may be two completely different topics, but they came from the same train of thought.
This works well because it’s similar to how writing down every thought encourages creativity. Putting your mind to paper gets you a more clear picture of what else is in your head.
List as many ideas as you can because you don’t know when you’ll next be in a block. You have to keep in the mind, the list doesn’t have to look pretty or professional. Everything starts out sloppy and that’s how it’s supposed to be.
We are the ones that create the list and format it to be presentable to others.
#3 Borrow Another’s Train Of Thought
If your train of thought is failing you, one thing you can do is board someone else’s.
Inspiration can come from reading what other people are talking about and oftentimes is due to the fact that you are inside their head and since you are in there with them, you’ll have your own thoughts follow through.
I read articles on Medium and that helps me come up with my own ideas because sometimes, as good as an article can be, it can leave me with unanswered questions. Maybe the questions don’t even stem from what they were talking about, but it got my mind thinking and helped lead me to an idea or question of my own.
Obviously reading is very important, but because it can do so much for us, it’s quite literally the only real way to be inside someone else’s head.
You may be just taking in information, but you’re still constantly looking forward and expecting certain things to come, whether they are there or not.
If you are reading a book you really like and the story is progressing well, when you put the book down, you might be thinking, “What happens next?” but you’re still holding the story in your mind and you start filling in what you think could happen.
The story continues in your head because you got involved in another idea and very easily are able to put your own spin on it.
I worry a lot that I don’t have something to write about and even with a list of ideas, there are some that I know I will never get around to talking about, so there’s even more limiting than I am consciously willing to admit.
A list can be giant and filled with words, but it can still be empty.
I believe this idea barrier is there because writing can sometimes be lonely. It’s like having a conversation with yourself.
If you treat it like a presentation on a stage and it’s something you have come prepared for with a lot to say, it’s easy and fun. But writing on a whim, you’re putting down information with nothing coming back to you except what stirs up in your mind from your thought process.
The other problem is knowing how to further an idea, but without the first idea to build off of, where do you get it from and where else can you go without it?
Nonetheless, ideas sometimes flow very fast and it’s like catching a fish in a river, and other times it’s like waiting for rain to fall on your crop.
It can be hard, but change up the circumstances, do things a bit differently and see what comes from it.