3 Ways To Come Up With Breakthrough Ideas When You're In A Creative Rut


There are 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, it's not always easy to come up with ideas and figure out what to create or work on next.

But, it doesn't have to be that way. Most of what I write about — and most of what I create in hopes of providing value for others — directly relates to whatever I'm going through at that particular moment. Here are three tips to help yourself come up with creative ideas:

1. Write about or create whatever it is 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 (a 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? It works well.

2. Brainstorm with a writing exercise.

This little writing exercise I use regularly for ad copy, headlines or even starting a new piece, but it transfers well to anything because it simply gets your cognitive gears turning. Take a word, a topic or anything else, and write that word or short phase out.

Yes, physically write it by hand. Now, think of variations of that word or phrase, and 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. Antacid. Antisemitism. Antisemitism in early 20th century Europe. Antisemitism's role in American immigration. Downcast Jewish family relocates from Germany 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 take, paintings to create, novels to write, sculptures to mold and songs to sing. There are so many options.

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

3. You need to consume in order to create.

The most interesting person you know (besides yourself) is probably the most interesting person you know because he or she knows the most. Interesting people and successful creatives always have a reference for anything, and they 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 idea that the human mind is a blank slate comes in handy here. Without consumption, your mind has nothing. Without reading, learning, experiencing, doing, watching or listening, you have nothing to pull from.

If you have nothing to pull from, you have nothing with which to create. What you want is the opposite of that.

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 and successful people you can get introduced to.

Continually surround yourself and indulge in the creative powers that are available all around you. Do this, and you'll always have a new ideas bursting forth.

This article was originally published on Kennetic Expression.