I blog several times a week, and have been writing in the career advice and leadership development space for almost eight years. How many ideas have I had to brainstorm to write about? You do the math. It’s a lot.
Some days I’m feeling especially creative and can generate insights from all sorts of places, but other days it’s a struggle to put forth a single interesting thought. To help me generate new ideas when the well is dry, I’ve developed the following strategies:
Sit on the Beach
Looking at open water and feeling the sand under my feet takes me out of my head and allows me to experience the moment. As I rest calmly, I’ll watch the other people in my vicinity and wonder what they do for a living and what’s going on in their lives right then. More often than not, a nugget of inspiration will arise.
Do a Mindmap
Wikipedia has a great visual representation of a mindmap that crystallizes the concept better than my words can, but essentially a mindmap is a non-linear diagram that aids in brainstorming around a central thought or idea. During times when your brain is all over the place, a mindmap is a helpful graphical tool for organizing and structuring information into a coherent form.
Piggyback on Others’ Ideas
My daily RSS feed includes all of the posts from this blog as well as posts from Harvard Business Review, Seth Godin, TLNT.com, Personal Branding Blog, and others. I often find that another expert will discuss a subject or make an argument on which I can express my point of view in a new post.
Make an Opinion List
Particularly during election years, jotting down a list of all of the issues you feel strongly about will usually result in fodder for your work life. For example, I’ve been following Obama’s American Jobs Act closely over the last year, and back in September I used it as an real-world example for how to persuade those who don’t share your beliefs.
Read Business Book Summaries
I get about three new business books in the mail every week, and I don’t have time to read all of them. I recognize, however, that I may be missing a lot of great material, so I check out Soundview Executive Summaries, which provides easy-to-digest, key takeaways from the top business books of the year and help me keep my finger on the pulse of what’s being discussed and why.
I am a member of several advocacy organizations, and nothing gets my juices flowing like a session with a lot of smart people in the same room. Gathering people you respect who are local and in your field to discuss a critical issue serves two purposes: it generates tons of ideas and it’s networking gold!