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3 Tips to Never Run Out of Creative Ideas


There's a few things I really love at this point in my life. There's my wife, of course. Then there's entrepreneurship and human behavior. I'm fascinated by these concepts. So that's what I write about most.

As others will relate to, it's not always easy to come up with ideas, to figure out what to create or work on next. But it doesn't have to be that way. Most of what I write about - most of what I create in hopes of providing value for others - directly relates to whatever I'm going through at that particular moment.

That's tip #1 for always coming up with ideas. Write about or create whatever it is that you're trying to understand.

Often, I'm trying to discern how to best use my time. Therefore, I write about productivity. I also work in a high stress environment (tech startup). For balance, I write about keeping a positive mindset and accomplishing dreams. I create to help myself process what's going on in my world.

Because I have yet to stop living and having experiences (knock on wood), I always have ideas and situations to work with. For instance, I'm writing about not running out ideas, because I wasn't sure what to write about next. See? Works well.

But maybe you're struggling with a giant stone wall of a creative block. Tip #2 will help you, especially for brainstorming. It's a little writing exercise I use regularly for ad copy, headlines, or even starting a new piece, but it transfers well to anything because it gets your cognitive gears turning.

Take a word, a topic, anything. Write that word or short phase out. Yes, physically write it by hand. Now think of variations of that word or phrase, then other similar sounding words or phrases. Write those out. Then start creating sentences, titles, or fully constructed ideas out of them. Here's an example.

Ant. Ants. Aunt. Aunty. Anti-acid. Antisemitism. Antisemitism in early 20th century Europe. Antisemitism's role in American immigration. Downcast Jewish family relocates from Black Forest to Brooklyn.

Right there you have an idea that could be used in most any creative medium. There's a story for any journalist. There's great photographs to be made, paintings to create, novels to write, sculptures to mold, songs to sing. There are so many options!

It's a simple exercise that works every time, or has for me, at least. And yes, I did actually use the exercise to come up with this example. It was not previously articulated. I do believe you can come up with better ideas.

Tip #3 is one that a lot of people won't want to do, but it's something that's necessary. That is this. You've got to consume in order to create. Here's why.

The most interesting person you know (besides yourself) is probably the most interesting person you know because they know the most. Interesting people - and successful creatives - always have a reference for anything, and can offer input on whatever subject comes up. That's because they've done really well at consuming.

I'm not a big fan of John Locke, but his bit on the human mind as a blank slate comes in handy here. Without consumption, your mind has nothing. Without reading, learning, experiencing, doing, watching, listening, you have nothing to pull from. If you have nothing to pull from, you have nothing with which to create. What we want is the opposite of that. So do this.

Read the best books you can get your hands on. Listen to the best music on the market. Watch the best movies you can find. Hang out with the most capable people you can get introduced to. Continually surround yourself with and indulge in what creative firepower is available all around you! Do this, and you'll always have a new idea bursting forth.

To make sure you never run out of creative ideas, do these three things. #1, write about or create what it is you're trying to figure out for yourself. Use that work to help you understand whatever concept that is, and use the finished product to share with or add value to others.

#2, Work through a simple brainstorming exercise. Activate your brain and utilize the connections your mind is already making to create something awesome. And #3, consume the best you can find so that you always have a pool of ideas stockpiled for use at any moment.