Having trouble coming up with ideas? Is that blank piece of paper - or computer screen - starting to drive you crazy?
Let’s face it, generating ideas is not an easy thing to do. But there are a few techniques you may not be aware of that can make generating ideas easier than you originally thought. In-fact: there are a lot of techniques you can use to help you generate ideas, but not all of the techniques produce great results.
Here are six of the best ways to produce amazing ideas.
Break routine. As humans, our instincts tell us that categorizing knowledge means easy access in the future. But because our brains are constantly looking in the same place for knowledge, our creativity is greatly hindered. Breaking routine and trying something new is a good way to inspire your creative mind and come up with incredible ideas. Do something you have never done before, try approaching your problems from a different angle, break routine. Instead of sitting at a desk with a pen and paper trying to think up ideas, sit upside down on a couch or chair with a big marker and some poster board, and let the change of perspective inspire you.
Don’t worry about quality. Breaking your usual routine is a great way to produce ideas, but when you try to focus on coming up with just one great idea, your limiting your creativity and actually making things harder for yourself. Instead of really trying to hammer out a single great idea, just focus on quantity of ideas until you have enough ideas to focus on the quality. The more ideas you come up with, the more likely you are to get incredible ideas. As advertising legend Alex Osborn once said: “quantity breeds quality”. So stop worrying.
Invert your thinking. New ideas are just that: new. One way you can create new ideas is by thinking what isn’t being thought through inverse thinking. Whatever ideas or thoughts you already have, think the complete opposite and try coming up with ideas around your new way of thinking. Instead of trying to come up with a new website design that looks good, try designing a website that looks horrible. Instead of trying to write a blog post that is helpful to readers, try writing one that won’t help anyone. Don’t think of an artist as a someone who draws lines, think of them as someone who draws between empty space. Inverting your thinking will quickly help you produce new ideas.
Give up. When you are really having a lot of trouble coming up with creative ideas, sometimes the best option is to just give up (for a while). Working our minds too hard, focusing on ideas, and stressing creativity, are all ways to really hurt your creativity. And you aren’t doing yourself any good by stressing yourself out. So give up, don’t even think about it anymore - at least for a few hours. Go see a movie, take a nap, play a game, work on something else, just give up for a while. The best part of giving up for a little while is that it’s a win-win situation: you may be struck by inspiration when you aren’t focusing, or - if you aren’t struck by inspiration - you will feel rested and ready to start producing ideas again.
Ask someone else for ideas. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. Sometimes other people will have ideas or thoughts that are incredible, but that person doesn’t have the resources or knowledge to produce their idea. So ask everyone you know if they have any ideas they wouldn’t mind sharing. Send off an email to people you look up to, ask your friends and family for ideas, or even ask a complete stranger. If anything, you can get some ideas to help fuel your own ideas. Just be sure you don’t steal someone else’s idea and run with it. If somebody gives you an idea that you like, ask them if you can use it.
Wonder why. Incredible ideas often come from incredible questions. The best question to ask when you are stuck producing ideas is “why?”. When you ask “why” of something, you create a new - often unseen - perspective. Instead of just accepting the world as we know it, ask “why” and be amazed. Why are traffic lights red, green, and yellow? What would happen if traffic lights used shapes instead of colors to signify stop, slow-down, and go? Wonder why something is the way it is, and new ideas will come to you quickly.
By breaking with routines, not worrying about quality, inverting your thinking, taking a break, asking for other people’s ideas, and wondering “why?”, you will be producing incredible ideas in no time - and with a lot less hassle. What are you waiting for? Try it out.
If you need more help producing ideas, take a look at this great list of methods for creating ideas by CreatingMinds.org. They have a huge, detailed list of things you can do to help you come up with ideas.