How To Become An Idea Machine

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How to become a blogging idea machine

I’ve talked before on this blog about the need for us to focus on active creation rather than passive consumption. But once you’ve made that mental switch, you can still face the dreaded blogger’s block. Do you ever sit down to write a blog post and are at a loss for where to start? Read on and you’ll never face the blank white screen again.

First, a few basic concepts that have become evident to me through blogging:

1) Ideas are not finite, you’ll never run out….
… even if you post every day….
I find that a lot of new bloggers worry that by posting a lot, one day their stockpile of ideas will run out. So it becomes counter-intuitive for them to write a lot. Given that more content = more traffic, this is quite problematic ;)

2) The more you write, the more new ideas you’ll generate.
There seems to be a flow in the way ideas come into your brain. So the more you write the more room you allow for new ideas to come in. If you stop the flow by not clearing them out of your head, you may end up mentally constipated!

The more regularly you write, the more ideas will come to you. Not only does the flow improve, but you learn to look at the world from a blogger’s perspective, meaning that you frequently see the inspiration for a blog post in interactions you have and events that occur.

3) Inspiration happens at inopportune moments
Your brain has a great capacity for generating ideas at unexpected moments, not just when faced with the white screen. Inspiration rarely strikes when you are sitting in front of a blank blog post, that’s a lot of pressure. Ideas tend to come in random ways, when you’re browsing other websites, when you’re having dinner, brushing your teeth, driving on the freeway etc.

The MOST important factor in being able to keep a steady flow ideas coming into your grey matter, is having a solid system in place for capturing and acting upon the ideas that strike you, no matter when or where that happens.

Create A System For Capturing Ideas

You need to have a solid system in place because if your brain is fixated on having to remember every juicy piece of information you come across that you might want to use in a post, or every idea that you have, you’ll find it contracts and doesn’t get into the expansive creative mode. It’s too busy remembering details to actually get inspired.

So you have to offload your memory into a practical and reliable tool. Once your idea has been captured and saved, your brain can relax and allow more ideas to flow in. Coming up with a great memory assist was one of the keys in my own ability to generate more ideas.

For it to work, the system you use must be :

  1. Easy to use, otherwise you won’t do it
  2. Accessible no matter where you are since you never know when inspiration will strike
  3. Easily actionable, i.e. it makes it easy for you to take the next step in fleshing out your idea

I’m a huge fan of pen and paper for many things, but capturing ideas is no longer one of them. It’s hard to organize ideas on paper and when I need to turn it into a blog post, there’s the tedious business of typing it out.

Once I switched to using Evernote, my life in this respect became much easier. Evernote lives both on my computer and my phone so I have access to it almost all of the time. Every idea becomes a note which I can develop at any point. It’s already digital so it’s easy for me to write and then transfer to a blog post. You can even capture voice and image notes in Evernote.

I also like to bookmark a lot of websites and blog posts for further research later. For that you could also use Evernote, although I typically use an online bookmarking platform like Diigo, Delicious or similar.

I Never Look At The Blank White Screen

Having an Evernote filled with ideas means that when I sit down to write, I’m never facing the mojo-killing blank screen. There’s always something that I can work on. So this makes the writing process so much easier. Offloading the memory part of your brain to Evernote (or similar) frees it up to work creatively on generating new ideas.

If you’re stuck for ideas right now, start here:

Prime your brain: Allowing your brain to be open to ideas is important.My friend Suzette Franck has some good thoughts on how to do that

Chris Brogan has tons of help with blog post ideas

What do you do to get the juices flowing and avoid blogger’s block? Share in the comments

header image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynnfriedman/4285832795/

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