Not all brainstorms are created equal. There are times when inspiration comes down in buckets. Leaving you with more ideas than you know what to do with. Then there are other times when you’re stuck in a creative drought. When you can’t find an idea to save your life.
If you’re a professional who does any sort of idea-generating—whether it’s for a blog, speaking events, or simply pitching concepts to your team—you’ve likely encountered both of these scenarios.
The best strategy is to stockpile ideas during the plentiful periods and hope your supply can get you through the barren times. But, almost inevitably, you will come to some point or another where you find the cabinet is empty.
So what can you do in those situations? How can you generate ideas when inspiration has left town and the creative well has run dry? Here are the top places to turn when you’re running low on ideas…
6 Significant Sources of New Ideas and Inspiration
When you’re having trouble coming up with new ideas, follow this six-step process:
1. Look to the PAST
A great source of ideas can often be what you’ve done before. Look at your most successful ideas—blog posts, speeches, pitches—and think about how you can revisit them. Maybe it’s approaching the problem or solution from a different angle. Or even just doing a follow up.
Another option is to take the idea and turn it inside out. So if you’ve previously explored a topic like when you should invest in new technology, you could do a follow-up of when you shouldn’t invest in new technology.
2. Dig through DATA
Organizations are doing studies and polls all the times. In fact, there’s probably not a day that goes by that there’s not results from a new study in the news. This data can be a great spark to dive into a topic.
You can talk about results of a study or what the results mean. You can talk about why the study is right or why it’s wrong. You can also use that data to provide a fresh perspective on an old topic.
3. Work in your WORK
A lot of times ideas are sitting right in front of us and we simply look past them. The things you work on every day can be a source of inspiration or conversation. Just think to yourself: What was a problem you faced in your work recently and how did you solve it?
This is a great way to generate ideas because it’s something you have up-close, hands-on experience with. That sort of insight is always valuable.
4. Get the NEWS
News outlets are probably one of the best resources for ideas because they give you a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the world right now. The web gives us access to a vast and endless stream of news from around the globe.
It’s a good idea to bookmark a few go-to news sites where you regularly find stories of interest. When you’re plum out of ideas, go read through the news and see if you find anything you connect to—or that connects to a topic you need to think, write, or speak about.
5. Go fishing on TWITTER
Along the same line as the news, Twitter is a great place to see what’s happening in the world. It’s also a great place to find different perspectives. And that can be incredibly valuable.
You can scroll through Twitter to see what people are talking about, or search specific topics to see what people are saying about them. You can even pull tweets showing different perspectives and use them in your content.
6. Scan your SOCIAL
If you post regularly on social networks, you can also look to yourself (or your organization) for inspiration. Go through your posts and see what you’ve been talking about over the past week, month, year, or five years.
That may give you ideas to pull, spark new ideas, or even become the idea. For example, maybe for a blog post, you pull out your five most popular LinkedIn posts from last year and talk about them from today’s perspective.
Tips to Set the Table for More Creative Thinking
The resources above are all great tools to use when you need help digging up ideas. Sometimes brainstorming is also helped by stepping away and getting outside of your head for a minute.
Here are a few additional resources filled with tips to give your brain the best conditions for creative thinking…