In this post I share 4 secrets to staying inspired that any creative can use – good for any situation from looming deadlines to severe creative blocks, these will keep you creating!The Beginner's Guide to Finding Creative Ideas - 4 secrets to staying inspired!

The threat of creativity blocks is real for the full range of creative people. It can cause issues for anyone who creates or innovates on a regular basis. You might find yourself in this situation if you call yourself:

  • chef

  • painter

  • illustrator

  • blogger

  • author

  • journalist

  • entrepreneur

  • teacher

  • story-teller

  • playwright

  • animator

  • crafter

  • sculptor

  • songwriter

  • and the list goes on…

But how does a creative person come up with ideas? How does anyone come up with good ideas and prevent blocks?

Ideas are easy. You just have to be open to them. The more you practice being open to ideas, to playing with concepts, and mixing and matching in your head, the more ideas you will have.

Free-write for Ideas

One way to start mixing and matching your thoughts, is to pour everything out onto a page. To do this, you want to practice “free-writing.” Free-writing is when you write your stream of consciousness. You can give yourself a prompt to respond to (a word or phrase works well) or you can write anything that is on your mind. Set a timer for five or ten minutes, and write everything that pops into your head. Don’t worry about grammar, form, punctuation, or spelling. The point is to get the thoughts out so you can begin to process them. From there you can move onto other practices to help you mix and match.

Finding Creative Ideas through A Brainstorm

If you struggle with recognizing ideas even after doing a free-write, the easiest thing to do is brainstorm. This is a systematic way you can set aside time and energy to generate ideas. The key to this is to say “yes” to anything and everything that pops in your head. Brainstorming is not the time to vet ideas – that comes later. Focus instead on generating as many ideas as you can.

There are several formats you can use:

  1. Cloud (or cluster)

  2. List

  3. Question

When people think of “brainstorming” they often think of a cloud or cluster diagram. In this, you write a central word and then write related words around. Once you have this first circle of words, you write as many related words around each of those. This is a good format if you have a topic in mind, but you’re still not sure where to go from there.

Another format for a given topic, or to start from scratch, is making a list. Listing is also the go-to format for those of us who are less visual. In this, you just write down as many things related to a topic or goal (i.e. essay, novel, etc) as possible. Once you have your list, you may see trends and you can go back and categorize as needed (this is helpful for further developing ideas or assessing your interest).

A final brainstorm format is questioning. This is really only good as a secondary brainstorm technique where you’re struggling to develop an idea. For example, if you’ve already got your idea in hand, but you’re struggling with details, questioning is a good plan. Just take your topic and answer the questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. You’ll be amazed at how much detail you can develop!

Finding Creative Ideas on the Fly

I don’t usually brainstorm unless I have a specific project with a deadline. Most of the time I find creative ideas on the fly. I do this by paying attention to current events, my gut reactions, and questions that I (or others) struggle to answer. The more outside stimuli I engage, the better my ideas become. This means I need:

  • to read (news, studies, posts, and fiction),

  • to talk to people (from close friends through strangers),

  • to watch (trends, movies, and television),

  • and journal.

I also pay attention to my dreams (and my spiritual guides). When I come to something I find interesting, I talk to people about it or share it and that is where magic happens. Some of my best ideas have come from people-watching. Others have come from talking about trends with my husband. The fact is, they can come from anywhere, but the more input I have, the better the ideas are.

While I have been practicing this for a long time, idea generation is something that anyone can learn to do. Yes, some of us may have built up our mental connections to be better, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have amazing ideas. Sometimes the best ideas are those that are the most simple and part of your daily life. You might think your idea is stupid, or simple, or uninteresting. The reality is, no one sees the world quite like you do. No one has quite your combination of experiences, skills, and talents. Don’t be afraid to test out your thought. This is how you get better, and better pushes you toward mastery.

When It’s Not Working

There are times when it stops working. Usually this is because you are:

  • physically tired

  • sad

  • afraid

  • guilty

  • ashamed

  • angry and or

  • burned out (emotionally or spiritually)

Maybe you can’t think clearly enough to even free-write. If that is the case, there are a few things you can do like:

  1. take a walk

  2. go outside

  3. meditate

  4. go to bed (seriously)

  5. try a different creative outlet (if painting isn’t working, try cooking)

  6. exercise

  7. hang out with a friend

  8. talk or write about why you’re blocked (this can address the root cause!) and if you’re still struggling,

  9. get a second opinion from an intuitive or mentor.

Don’t let a creative block stop you – you can stay inspired and keep creating with the help of these tactics! I’ve used these to great success – let me know how they work for you!

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Alexis Donkin

Alexis Donkin is a life coach and intuitive helping creatives build lives based in unconditional love. She is the creator of The Compassion Letter weekly newsletter, and the online course, The Heart Unboxed: How to Love the Unloveable, as well as host of the Intentional Writer Interview Series and author of over 17 books.
The Beginner’s Guide to Finding Creative Ideas
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