Simple Things To Do To Generate More Creative Ideas
I used to think that creativity was a talent: either you had it, or you didn’t. And for the longest time, I resigned myself to the idea that I could never be creative enough. But I soon learned that creativity was bred, not born. It is merely a skill that anyone can learn, practice and develop. So here are some of the simplest things I do to generate new creative ideas, and I hope they help you flex those creative muscles, too!
1. Jot Down Your Ideas
Inspiration is always an unannounced guest. It strikes at the most random of moments, so you have to prepare for when it comes knocking on your door. Luckily, said preparation is not difficult. All you have to do is ensure that you have a notebook and pen or any note-taking device with you at all times.
It can be difficult to come up with a good, solid plan when your mind is all over the place. Hence, jotting down your ideas helps you organize and keep track of your thought process. If you have a goldfish memory like mine, making notes is especially important to prevent yourself from forgetting good, fleeting ideas (which is the most frustrating feeling ever!).
Your notes don’t have to be detailed or proper, just as long as they’re memory-jogging. Don’t be afraid to write down your most out-of-this-world and impossible ideas. And above all, don’t be ashamed of your ideas, no matter how terrible they may seem initially. You’ll be surprised at how many good creative ideas actually come from revisiting bad ones!
2. Talk To People
Sometimes, racking your brain isn’t a good way to solve a problem when there’s no better idea in there. Instead, try talking to other people to gain their perspectives. Ask them for feedback about your ideas and open yourself up to criticism. Get to know their wants and needs. Creative ideas are meant to solve human problems, so who better to ask about these problems than humans?
You can start by talking through your thoughts with people that you trust, then slowly progress to interviewing strangers. Get them to ask you questions about your idea and find flaws in your plan, because that way, you can start correcting these flaws. However, be prepared to hear completely honest opinions! Sometimes you may be faced with discouraging phrases like “that won’t work” or “nobody’s going to like that”. Instead of giving up, try to work backwards from these comments. Ask questions like “How do I make it work?” or “What need am I not meeting?”.
3. Get Inspired
Creativity works like a water tank: if you keep channelling water out of the tank without filling it up, it will eventually run dry. Similarly, your brain can’t continue to generate creative ideas if you don’t absorb them first. Hence, I suggest setting aside time to do nothing but appreciate other people’s creations. During this time, remind yourself not to compare your own works with others, because to quote Theodore Roosevelt, “comparison is the thief of joy”.
Simply lose yourself in the awe and wonder of what made you enjoy that creation or work in the first place. Then, ask yourself why that piece spoke to you so much. What did it make you feel? How did you identify with that content? What elements can you learn from the creator? Writing down the answers to these questions can also help you in your ideation process.
4. Save Your Inspirations
After exploring different content and getting inspired, I find it helpful to save the links to these pieces so that I can refer to them again easily. This isn’t so that you can copy their ideas in the future. Rather, it can be uplifting to revisit content that moved you or brought you joy when you’re feeling uninspired.
So make use of the bookmark, ‘add to playlist’ and ‘save to watch later’ functions. Better yet, curate your own playlist of motivational music or inspiring videos and images. Treat them as your go-to-places for when you’re stuck in a pit of stale ideas. Saving your inspirations also enables you to revisit them multiple times and hopefully, learn new things from them with each visit.
5. Ask “What If” Questions
And don’t be afraid to sound crazy! Take note of what problems frustrate you, then ask yourself, “What if I could change that?” or “What if there was an invention to solve that?”. Of course, these questions would remain empty words if you don’t take action to turn them into ideas. I know this is easier said than done, but asking questions and dreaming of solutions are often the first steps to coming up with a truly creative idea.
6. Work Backwards From A Bad Idea
Come up with the worst possible idea you can think of, one that you would immediately dismiss because it’s so awful. Think about why it’s such a bad idea. List down the ways that it fails to meet a need or attract attention, then make sure that your current or new ideas don’t repeat those mistakes. For example, if you’re creating a piece of content, think of the most cliche, overused concept possible. Then, make sure you don’t recreate it. Instead, try to identify the concept’s strengths and think of how you can expand on them to turn it into a unique idea.
It’s important to understand that creativity is cultivated, not just gifted. If you’re struggling to generate creative ideas, know that it’s completely okay and normal to do so! In fact, allow yourself to come up with crappy ideas because it’s from there that you work towards really good ones. I hope that these six tips will help you in your creative journey, and remember: don’t stop creating! If you are interested in watching some movies to get yourself inspired, read this article on Shows and Movies To Inspire Creativity and Resourcefulness!