I find it an odd question. My brain goes through 100000s of ideas every day – I think !, I’ve never actually counted them. It’s a lot anyway.
So why look for ideas outside yourself ? I think we learn that our own ideas aren’t good enough. There’s also the principle of running with the heard, fitting in.
Neither of these things are a bad thing. But overused they can become a burden for a writer.
There’s also the fear of being judged. It’s a valid fear I wouldn’t abandon it, learn to work with it. Jack Sutter wrote a nice piece on this – “Don’t Be So Careful”
Writers will always have constraints on what they can and can’t write. That’s life, deal with it, get used to it.
Looking Inside For Ideas
Look inside yourself for ideas of what to write. And write them. If you’re certain you like what you’ve written then publish, if not then leave it in draft and come back to it later.
Imagination is key. Imagination is a muscle, needs exercise. Luckily it’s possible to exercise this muscle doing just about anything at the same time. Even whilst we’re looking outside for ideas.
Imagination isn’t the preserve of fiction or creative writers either. Einstein from what I understand used his own imagination to create his very very technical ideas. One of his methods was to sleep or snooze on it. He’d get stuck on something he was working on. Go and have a nap. And hey presto he’d wake up with the answer. Perhaps because when he’s resting his whole brain is available to work on it. Or it may be that people have “anti-imagination” thinking going on when they’re awake. Either way, sleep, and relaxed states of being can be great places to come up with ideas.
When I want to learn about something I’m very unfamiliar with I often go to YouTube, especially where what I’m trying to learn is visual. I remember finding one video, in which the guy was showing how to design a logo in Adobe Illustrator. It was for a commercial project, he had a name for the logo already assigned by his client. It was memorable to me, because he’d actually detailed his creative process. It went something like this :
- Get some old magazines and look for designs or images that inspire
- Collect the ideas together
- Put on music on iPod, and start to draw out by hand, sketch out his idea roughly
- Scan or digital photograph into Illustrator
- Trace the sketch in Illustrator. Refine the curves, add colour. Refine, refine, refine.
- Publish/deliver to client
This is a creative process of a graphic designer making a logo. The process for creating a piece of writing isn’t that disimilar. Of note is that the individual “artist” needs to develop their own process. This is an individual and personal thing, which the individual needs to develop for themselves, in their own experience. It doesn’t hurt to have a head start, like the outline above.
Personally when I write a blog post, my process is similar to the above. Sometimes it’s entirely in my head, in my imagination. I’ll often use my imagination as the creative drawing board on which to play with the ideas, prior to starting my writing (or graphic design).
As one improves, just think of a title, the seed of an idea. Then sit down with my WordPress editor, and start typing. Get the ideas down. Then keep editing and refining until it’s “finished”.
Looking for ideas outside is a great place to start. Magazines, newspapers, books, Google. But over time I think the creative person starts to use their own imagination more and more, and rely less and less on external input.
From time to time I see my ideas on other people’s blogs. Initially it’s a little annoying, feels like they’ve stolen my idea. When I’ve calmed myself down and looked at the funny side it’s two-fold :
- There’s something very empowering in seeing your own idea reused, it’s a bit like seeing your child becoming successful at something. Gives me a sense of pride.
- My evil sense of humour knows that the other person can’t think of their own ideas, so I have a little bwahahaha chuckle to myself about it. Keep my hand in on the dark side, so to speak.
We all copy others to a certain extent, it’s normal – We absorb so many ideas, it’s impossible to tell exactly the origin, for most people. I often use ideas from other people’s blogs. So it’d be “pot calling the kettle black” if I got up in arms about it. What’s not cool is copying verbatim and passing it off as one’s own. It’s very good idea to cite inspirations and sources -other bloggers 99 times out of 100 will be pleased that you gave credit, and were inspired by their ideas.
Eventually a creative person needs to master their own imagination, and create by themselves without external input. This is the final destination. Being able to do it on your own, is incredibly empowering, and MUST be the goal of anyone who creates anything. With the caveat that collaborative creating is highly recommended, and can accelerate creativity. Bottom line, learn to be self-sufficient, not rely on others, but be able to work in partnership too. Flexibility and collaboration.
Just a little creative writing for a Thursday 😀 Typos I charge extra for !
Resources & Sources
Imagine Photo – morgueFile.com
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Warm regards, Don Charisma