In Essays on
January 30, 2016

Simple Ways to Have Better Ideas

As a copywriter, I’m paid to create on demand. However, it’s often easier said than done. Here are some tried and tested ways to generate good ideas, as and when you need them.

Keep an Ideas Bank

The most successful creatives keep an Ideas Bank. Maybe you’re on the train and an advert triggers your thoughts. Or a menu you’ve stumbled upon features an unexpected slogan. Collect them all. I’m constantly updating a private Pinterest board with links and photographs from here, there and everywhere. Sometimes inspiration isn’t going to strike, and I want to be prepared regardless.

Gather your raw material

In the beginning, have a conversation with yourself and outline the basics. Gather your raw material — articles, photographs, conversations, interviews, anything that fuels your imagination for the task in hand — and your initial ideas will follow. Awareness of your industry paired with brilliant research is the fuel that drives great ideas.

Read some poetry, look at a design blog, listen to rap music on blast. Whatever your vice, embrace it. Procrastinate, productively.

Procrastinate, productively

Pencil is a proven way of generating faster, more creative thinking. Swap the MacBook for a Moleskine and get scribbling. Alternatively, engage with the other half of your brain by doing something completely different. Read some poetry, look at a design blog, listen to rap music on blast. Whatever your vice, embrace it. Procrastinate, productively.

Cultivate your inner muse

Even the experts will attest that sometimes it just isn’t happening. So, go for a walk. Clear your mind and make way for new ideas. Charles Darwin had a pathway constructed in his house in Kent for exactly this purpose. One of my favourite techniques is to go into a bookshop or library and browse the shelves related to your industry. You never know what inspiration you may find hidden in a table of contents.

Relocate to create

Can’t leave the office? Move to a meeting room or kitchen table instead of your desk. Try ‘automatic writing’, a technique where you keep scribbling about your subject non-stop, without repetition for a few minutes. Talk to an impartial colleague — speaking about it out loud is often the first step. And then, forget about it. Do something else. Distract yourself. Let all of your thoughts cement in your sub-conscious.

Ultimately, generating great ideas is less about light-bulb moments, and more about the process. Structure can breed creativity. As Jean-Luc Godard said, “it’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.”

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