We’ve all been there. No matter how hard we stare at the screen, a killer idea for our next email marketing campaign is just not coming.
Here’s help: nine ways to get those ideas flowing again:
1. Generate a word or phrase list
“If you want to write about a specific topic or communicate a certain idea, jot down a list of single words and phrases that relate to the general topic you are thinking about off the top of your mind,” advises David K. William at The Web Writers Spotlight. “When you are finished listing, group the items on your lists in a logical manner and provide a label for each group. Write a sentence about each group and you will have several topic or theme sentences you can develop.”
“Doodling isn’t (necessarily) the sign of a wandering, idle mind,” assures Andrew Tate at Canva. “Instead, doodling can improve cognitive performance on tasks such as memory retention. How it does this is still a mystery, but the added focus for your mind might help it to stop wandering, rather than make it wander.”
3. Try connecting two random words
“I love this technique,” writes Harry Gardiner at Koozai. “Simply pick two random words and try and tie your content to it in the most imaginative way possible. Simple as that. The real fun part is how you choose to come up with the words. You could use an online generator; you could flick through a dictionary; or you could write words on a bunch of plastic balls, throw them into the air, and then choose the words on the first two balls you catch. Have fun.”
4. Set a timer and start writing
“Scribble down as many ideas as you can in that time, and don’t let yourself stop—keep your pen moving, or keep typing, until the timer goes off,” suggests Ali Hale at Daily Writing Tips. “The pressure of time can force you to be creative: you’ll find yourself jotting things almost in desperation, but when you look back over the ideas that you’ve written down, you may well find some gems in there.”
5. Create a mindmap
“Mindmapping is a graphical technique for imagining connections between various pieces of information or ideas,” writes Cleverism. “Each fact or idea is written down and then connected by curves or lines to its minor or major (previous or following) fact or idea, thus building a web of relationships.” Start by writing a key phase related to the problem you are trying solve in the middle of a page. Then, write anything else that comes to mind on the same page, and try to make connections between them. Learn more about mindmapping here.
6. Go for quantity
“Out of quantity comes quality,” says Angela Booth at Lifehack. “The simplest, and yet the best way to generate great ideas is to generate LOTS of ideas. Pick a topic each day. Then, generate ten ideas on that topic, off the top of your head. Don’t think about it too much. Just make a list from one to ten, then jot down your ideas. Keep all your ideas. You’ll be amazed at the results.”
7. Nurture a creative network
“Creative whizzes often are seen as lone wolves, but some of the best ideas come from collaboration,” according to QuickBase. “Begin by acknowledging to yourself that you don’t have all the answers, and working with others can help relieve the pressure. Meet people after hours to sit around and talk about innovative ideas, or use creative digital communities.”
8. Feel free to daydream
“Daydreaming is truly one of the most fundamental ways to trigger great ideas,” says Cleverism. “The word ‘daydream’ itself involuntarily triggers an uninhibited and playful thought process, incorporating the participant’s creativity and resourcefulness to play around with the present problem. It enables a person to establish an emotional connection with the problem, which is beneficial in terms of coming up with a wonderful idea.”
“It’s hard to come up with great ideas when your mind is crowded with everyday thoughts and concerns,” writes Inc.’s Kevin Daum. “You need quiet space. Meditation will help you clear your mind of daily business and stress. Commit to two hour-long sessions every week and soon you’ll find new ideas flowing.”
A bonus tip: Your next idea may come to you by surprise—be ready for it!
“Good ideas will cross your mind when you least expect it,” writes Shane Bryson at Scribbr. “When they do, make sure that you can hold onto them. Many people come up with their best ideas just before falling asleep; you might find it useful to keep a notepad by your bed.”