Growing New Ideas


Or, 4 actually useful ways to give your creativity a boost.

Where do new ideas come from? Sometimes it feels like we spend all our time chasing ever elusive “inspiration” in the hopes that with it will come our next breakthrough, our next idea, our next big thing. 

If you have the luxury of inspiration, more power to you. If creating is a pastime, then waiting for inspiration is probably reasonable. But for creating to become more than just a hobby, or for those that are beating it out to try make a living, you have to learn to find creativity without inspiration. 

I’m always interested in articles and blogs claiming ways of boosting creativity, but for the most part, they’re disappointing. They’re full of the same “ideas” to do with disconnecting or getting out in nature. That’s nice enough but when you’re crunching to a deadline, sometimes those ideas aren’t enough. 

Previously, I wrote about how having a routine and a “formula” for creating helps me keep going, but here are some more ideas that might work better for you. 

Find a means of creative expression that’s different from your usual medium.

For the most part, I draw in pen and digitally. When I need to get ideas coming, I spend 15 or 30 minutes either with a different medium such as watercolor, or with a completely different style of expression like journaling. Free writing works really well. Do something that a) comes easily to you or b) isn’t something you’re trying to be good at. The key here is to take the pressure to produce away. A few minutes in this mind frame does wonders for generating ideas.

Keep a notebook with you.

This is not as cumbersome or as passé as it sounds. For most people, their smartphone works perfectly as a “notebook.”  Take a few seconds to write down any ideas that come to mind. Keeping track of these ideas will help you to build on them and to make connections to old ideas. Which leads me to my next point – 

Improve on old ideas.

There really is no such thing as a new idea any more. Everything is an improvement on an old idea. So build on old ideas. Revisit something you haven’t tried in a while, whether it’s a style or a subject. Try and combine an old idea with something new, perhaps a new subject. Even if your old ideas weren’t that good, adding and building on them can lead to something new or spark new thoughts. 

Combine ideas.

This step is probably the one that is helping me the most right now. Take two things that might not normally go together, and try to figure out how they might. Take problem and try to figure out how something seemingly unrelated could be the solution. Even if it doesn’t work out, usually an idea shows up along the way. If you’re stuck on finding two ideas to combine, try incorporate a new method with an old way of doing things. 

Regardless of what method you use to try boost or find creativity, the most important thing is don’t stop creating. Don’t stop looking around, and never close your mind to new ideas.

Further reading:

I haven’t tried this method yet but this article on Scientific American about how rethinking labels can boost creativity is really interesting. 

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