The other day a friend asked me how I can come up with so much to write about, and how I find inspiration. I couldn’t come up with an answer straight away, but I’ve been thinking about it for the last few days.
I realized that I don’t try to find inspiration. I don’t actively search for ideas; I let ideas come to me naturally.
What do you mean?
I don’t force an influx of inspiration, because I realized it’s impossible to “find” it. Inspiration has to come to you. My method of finding things to write about is simple: I write down any ideas I get without judging them, and then I just start writing. Then I have a few tricks to keep the ideas flowing. I will explain this more in detail below.
Write any idea down
Let’s say an idea comes to you. Most of the time, it just floats by as a tiny thought inside your mind, and you don’t reflect upon it any further. If you want to be more creative, do not let this happen. Even at the slightest hint of an idea, catch it. It might evolve into something beautiful.
Stay aware of the thought processes inside your mind all the time. By doing this, you can choose not to immediately disregard an idea when it comes to you. Instead of judging it as good or bad, just write it down; even if it only consists of one or two words. The first step is the most important step.
Easier said than done, right? There is a simple reason you can’t come up with anything to write (or create, if you’re an artist in some way); you are attached to the outcome. When creating, realize that you don’t only have one chance. You don’t have to write the perfect paragraph or create the most catchy melody on the first try.
When I started this website, I only had one idea in mind; I wanted to write down a few thoughts I had, and hopefully help some people. And listen carefully now, people: that’s why I have put ads in the sidebar.
Haha. Jokes aside: Initially I had a few ideas about what I wanted to write about; something about productivity, habits, and spiritual development. The first article I wrote was 10 Reasons Why You Should Drink Green Tea. At the time of writing that article, I had no other ideas in mind. I though that was going to be a problem, but something happened; the article spawned more ideas. By the time I was done writing 10 Reasons Why You Should Drink Green Tea, I had created a document and written down ideas for at least five potential articles. This article is the fifth I write. The previous four has spawned enough inspiration for at least 25 articles.
Ideas in your mind behave like wildfire in a dry forest. Once the initial spark has been ignited, it will spread. Don’t be afraid of writing that first paragraph, even if you are sure it will be bad. To get started, just write anything. It does not need to be good. The only purpose of “just writing something” is to get your mind relaxed and open for inspiration.
But there is one fundamental thing you have to remember. You can’t force inspiration. When writing that first paragraph, try not to do it as a means to an end. Focus on the now; don’t be dependent on an immediate influx of inspiration in order to keep writing. It may take some time. When I wrote Habit: the Road to Success, it was initially very messy. But I kept going, and as I did that, more ideas spawned on how I could make the article better.
Don’t make an emotional attachment to your creation – at least not until it’s complete. It might happen that you write or create something you find amazing. But it might also happen that this particularly splendid work of art prevents you from continuing with your creation. Maybe it is because it is not aligned with the rest of the creation. For example, you might come up with an amazingly poetic piece of text, but it does not fit in with the rest of the text. If this happens and you find yourself stuck in the creative process due to this, there are three different things you can do to get the inspiration back.
- Keep thinking and struggling. Not recommended. This kills the creative process.
- Start a new page. Just move on, if it’s possible. You might come up with a solution for the problem later.
- “Kill your darlings”, e.g. remove or move what is holding you back. If the amazing poetry you came up with doesn’t fit with the rest of the text, then remove it, or save it for another situation where you might find better use of it.
There is no reason why you should not write down your ideas. Personally, I write down anything, even if I am sure it won’t lead to anything later. I have lots of article titles written down, without even knowing what content I should create to accompany the title. It does not matter. Let even the tiniest idea come to you, start creating something without judging or attaching yourself to the outcome, and you will in no time have hundreds of ideas and hopefully some good creations.