"Inspiration is for amateurs - the rest of us just show up and get to work." - Chuck Close
Ever sit down to write a piece of content, say a blog post, Instagram post, or video outline and feel like you’ve got nothing?
A few days ago, it may have felt like you had 8,432 ideas swirling around, but now that it’s time to put pen to paper, nothing seems quite right. You’re drawing a blank. Everything suuuucks.
Or maybe you’re worried you’ll run out of ideas? That this will be the last good idea you’ll ever have (I know that thought has crept into my mind more than once).
As someone who creates a fair amount of content, I’d be lying if I said I never drew a blank.
Turns out creativity doesn’t come on tap and it’s not something we can buy, but when our work or business relies on it, we can’t always wait until inspiration hits either.
I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for those times when the Idea Well is dry. I wanted to share a few of them with you today, in case you ever get hit with the what-the-fuck-am-I-supposed-to-write-now demons.
Turns out I had more ideas than I thought, so I’m sharing a three with you below, but if you want the full shebang, I put the rest into an easy to access and use free guide for you!
By the way, these are all things I do, not just a laundry list of ideas to fill up a blog post, so they’re tried, tested, and approved! Let me know which one you like the best!
How to Come Up With Content Ideas When You're Stuck
1. Start an Ideas Journal and Schedule a Brain Dump
This sounds overly simple, but it works.
I schedule blocks of time here and there, sit down with my idea notebook, and brain dump content ideas.
The rules for a good brain dump? There are no rules! Every idea is valid. By allowing all ideas and not judging them, I find it allows more to flow freely. Often as one idea comes pouring out, it will trigger another one.
I choose a daunting number and set it as a challenging goal.This forces me to write ALL ideas down and throw some of my perfectionism to the side. Truly, all ideas are fair game in a brain dump. You never know what else they’ll inspire or mean three months down the road. You’re also not obligated to use any of the ideas you come up with, so the pressure is off.
After you’re finished, you can go through your list and mark what feels most aligned with your work or that you want to focus on next and add them to your content schedule. (Don’t have one of those? I’ve got my KISS method for you right here.)
I have a notebook dedicated to content ideas, that way it’s easy to refer to and find. I also add to this notebook sporadically on non-scheduled, brain-dump times whenever a new idea for content pops into my head.
Additionally, I use the notes section in my phone to store content ideas and half written posts, for those times inspiration hits and I’m not at my desk (which is more often than not!).
*A tip: I start each new note with ‘blog topic’ or ‘blog post idea’ or ‘Instagram/Social Media post’. This way, it’s easy to use the search bar at the top of the notes section to search for my ideas on days I’m drawing a blank.
Trust me, you want to do this. I’m currently at 1,115 notes and counting in my phone, and some of those are loooooong notes I’ve taken on books and lectures. There’s no way I’d be able to, or want to, wade through all of those when I’m feeling stuck and in need of inspiration.
Find a system that works for you, but be sure to include a way to search and find your ideas later. We think we’ll remember them, but that isn’t always the case!
2. Challenge Yourself to Come Up With Ideas Every Day
Creating ideas is a muscle that needs to be flexed and gets stronger with repetition.
I remember when I was acting, the thought of being able to memorize 17 pages overnight seemed impossible. It wasn’t until I started practicing memorization that it became easy. Coming up with ideas works the same way. The more we do it, the stronger the muscle gets.
We have to practice coming up with ideas just like anything else.
You can use James Altucher’s method (which I love) of coming up with ten new ideas every day
My version of this? I challenge myself to write something original every day. I batch all of my social media content except for Instagram intentionally, and use Instagram as my playground, idea workout, and practice! I post on Instagram daily, which forces me to come up with a new idea and write something about it every day.
Are some days crap? Absolutely. Do I have to search and repurpose content once in a while, sure. Do I dig into prewritten content sometimes, you betcha. But, this still ensures that at least 5 days a week, I’m writing and coming up with something new, which keeps this muscle in shape.
You don’t have to use my way to work out the idea muscle, find something that works for you. I highly recommend working out your idea muscle daily!
3. What’s Your Story?
Another great place for original, non-derivative content? Your life story! Not only is your life filled with great stories to share, no one else has your story, so pulling content from personal experiences ensures it’s unique and helps ward off the copycats.
Take some time and review the important moments in your life. What did you learn? How did you grow?
Think about your current life experiences. What’s noteworthy? What experiences relate to your work? What experiences taught you a life lesson? What’s your ‘hero’s journey’?
What personal stories represent your business and brand? What stories led up to where you are now?
Is there a behind the scenes story you can share?
Think about the stories in your life that helped you create your business or that tie into your mission.
Get vulnerable and think of a tough time you had and what you learned as it relates to your clients and work. Pick ‘everyday’ stories that make you relatable and help explain a concept that might be confusing otherwise.
Your life is ripe for the picking with content ideas!
As a bonus tip, don’t forget to have fun!
But, really. Don’t forget to have fun. Shake it up. Have a solo dance party. Have a glass of wine. This is about CREATION and creativity.
I know the pressure threatens to kill the fun sometimes, but shake it off, and remember why you started. Remember why you want to create content in the first place. Remember you GET to do this!! You GET to make something.
I promise you, more ideas flow when we’re happy than when we’re bullying ourselves and putting pressure on ourselves. I can say this with authority because I’ve tried it both ways ;).
Stripping the joy from creation will stop ideation in its tracks.
I hope this helps you come up with a few ideas the next time you're feeling creator's block.
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A loving reminder, you have great ideas. You are enough. Your voice is unique and special. You have important stories to share. You are capable of so much more than you think.
With so much love, I’m wishing you happy creating!
P.S. Want some space to brainstorm, think out loud, and strategize your content? Need some accountability? Want to figure out how to make your content work for you in your biz? I’d love to support you! Click here to learn more about working together and schedule a free coaching consultation!