We’ve all had moments when we’re sitting at our desk, staring at a blank screen, and wondering how we’re going to come up with that next great idea. Some people turn to their trusted friends, while others head straight to the internet in search of inspiration. Still others grab their sketchbooks and start brainstorming away, hoping they’ll hit upon something in that process. While each of these methods have their merits, sometimes you just can’t force an idea out of your head no matter what you do – at least not right away. When you’re feeling stuck for inspiration, here are eight simple ideas to keep your mind creative.
Reading is one the best ways to discover and process new ideas, thoughts, and information. So, make sure you stay on top of your reading list, whether that means e-books or hardbacks. Having a reading journal or notebook, so you can regularly track of things you’ve read and what you thought about them, keeps your mind sharp.
Also, be on the lookout for reading events such as guest lectures, conferences, and festivals. These are great opportunities to talk with other like-minded individuals and gain new perspectives in an informal setting. Whether you’re into fiction or nonfiction, or a little of both, reading constantly and consistently keeps our minds always working on ideas.
2) Taking Pictures
Any time you see something you want to remember, whip out your phone and take a picture. Whether it’s a scene you find breathtaking or an interesting person or place, snapping images can spark new ideas for your writing. Take advantage of every moment as you travel, hike, or bike. All of these activities force us out of our daily routines, giving us fresh eyes and allowing us to notice things we normally wouldn’t.
Even in our daily lives, though, if something strikes you as different or unusual, snapping a picture is worth doing. In the world today, sharing photos has become its own sort of communication. Learning how to frame your shots and identify good composition can help you frame ideas you didn’t even realize were there.
In order to stimulate creativity, you must get out of your comfort zone. Brainstorming is a great way for you to get creative and work on new projects or ideas. It’s about coming up with as many ideas as possible. The more ideas you come up with, the more likely it will be that at least one of them is innovative or unique.
There are many brainstorming techniques, but they all essentially follow similar principles: you share your thoughts freely and no idea is criticized. In a group setting, brainstorming sessions involve group members listening closely, repeating what others say, encouraging them to elaborate on their contribution. In either solo or team brainstorming, there should be no censorship.
4) Watching a Movie
Watching a movie is an opportunity for your mind to take a break from everyday life and wander. Try not to plan out exactly what you want your brain to think about during that time; let it go and see where it goes on its own. You may want to keep a journal for movie watching, just as critics do, to get a better grasp on what makes a movie enjoyable (or not).
For some people, coming up with good ideas comes naturally when their minds are in a relaxed state. Watching movies can also introduce you to new areas of knowledge that may provide inspiration for future projects. Of course, many movies take creative license with some things, so if something seems off when you’re watching a movie, be sure to figure out why that is.
5) Playing an Instrument
Playing an instrument, such as guitar or piano, can be incredibly rewarding. Not only does it create a great outlet for stress and frustration, but it is also an effective way to unwind after a long day at work. As a universal language, there are so many different types of music you can enjoy. Learning how to play music gives you a deeper appreciation for the art of performance.
If you’re not much of a musician, there are other sorts of instruments you can try. For example, try taking up painting, as a paintbrush is its own kind of instrument. There are dozens of free and low-cost classes available at your local art store that you can use to master watercolors or pastels. Recent studies even suggest that learning how to paint can help you become more creative in other areas of your life!
6) Writing Prompts
Creating content doesn’t have to be hard or stressful. In fact, you can find plenty of ways to make it fun! Here are some quick and easy writing prompts that will help you generate new ideas:
- Think about something that you normally take for granted. Why is it important? What would happen if it were gone?
- Think about a time when someone was nice to you when they didn’t have to be.
- Pick a topic (food, people, etc.) and research 5 fun facts about it that most people don’t know.
- Write down an interesting observation from your day/week/year and think about how it could be tied into something bigger
- Who has inspired you recently?
Starting a free blog where you answer prompts like this can help you to not only practice generating ideas, but also give you the opportunity for feedback. You may be surprised what you learn from other people responding to your own writing prompt responses.
7) Interviewing People
Interviewing is a great way of getting new ideas. Most people don’t think of interviewing as a creative task, but it is, as asking questions is itself a creative act. Start by interviewing experts on your favorite topics in order to get their perspective; then branch out into other fields that are connected with yours.
Don’t limit yourself to simply asking someone questions about their background, either; instead, come up with unique questions that will open up new ways of thinking and inspire people. You’ll be surprised how much information you’ll uncover—and how quickly your own mind will start churning out fresh ideas.
8) Join or Start A Community
Nothing fuels creativity like new ideas, and nothing encourages new ideas like hanging out with people who inspire you. Find a community of fellow creatives, either in person or online, and brainstorm together. Give one another assignments or challenges, like coming up with an idea for a specific project.
The interplay between different minds is a powerful source of inspiration. After all, look how many comedy groups have been successful just by goofing around and trying new ideas that by oneself seem ridiculous. One’s silly joke can be turned by a group into a memorable comedy routine.
The world of ideas can seem like it’s constantly at war, with artists, thinkers, and creatives fighting over who has the best ones. While it’s impossible to know exactly how many ideas are created every second of every day, it’s safe to say that more good ones exist than we could ever imagine. In fact, there are so many of them that we can get stuck chasing after only the most popular ones, to the detriment of our own productivity and success as an individual. So, the best way to generate the best ideas is to find them ourselves in our own every day lives. The greatest ideas you’ll ever meet are out there; you just have to find them.