Creativity Tricks to Get Your Juices Flowing
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It’s 9 pm. And it’s been one of those days. After 12-plus hours of meetings, conference calls, emails to recap meetings, meetings to follow up on emails, and sifting through reply-all messages that have nothing to do with anything, you finally have a moment to sit down and work on that blog post that’s due tomorrow morning.
During my five years as a copywriter at one of Houston’s largest advertising agencies, I learned a thing or two about surviving in a create-on-demand environment. When my team got word that the client was on his way to our office and that he wanted to see three brand-new concepts, we knew exactly what to do.
Number one, panic … but do it as efficiently as possible so you can move on to …
Number two, get to work.
So yeah, I learned a few tricks for generating new ideas in a hurry. And you better believe I keep them close at hand when it comes to creating content. Here are three of my favorites:
1. Mind Map
The mind map has become a staple at innovation-driven companies like Apple, Amazon and Zappos. It’s a pretty simple concept: grab a piece of paper and in the middle write the topic of the content piece. Then start playing the word-association game with yourself, draw lines coming out from that initial word, and write down all the words or phrases that come to mind. Then do the same for each of those words or phrases, and continue until you stumble across the perfect idea. (Do a Google image search for “mind maps” to see some impressive examples.)
You can make your mind map either by hand or using any one of the many apps available (I’m partial to Xmind, which also comes in handy for sitemapping). As long as you “get out of your head” and start getting ideas down, you’re on the right track.
2. List of 20
Even simpler than the mind map is the practice of starting a list of potential topics for your content piece. Just remember two rules:
- Write down every idea, no matter how dumb it sounds
- Don’t stop until you have at least 20 ideas.
I don’t know what it is about the number 20, but it usually me takes that many to get all the crappy, done-to-death ideas out of my system and let the muse take the wheel.
3. Freeform Writing
Grab a pad or notebook and a pen. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write without stopping until the timer goes off. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or anything making sense to anyone but you — just write. If it pops up in your head, it goes down on the page. This is my favorite way to “clear out the cobwebs,” especially if my brain’s been taking in too much input.
What about you — what are your favorite ways of tackling the need to “create on demand?” Share your answer with us in the Comments. We’d love to hear from you!
About the Author
A self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please).
As Founder and CEO of Resonance, Rachel helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and a sought-after speaker, having presented to many major business and marketing organizations. Contact Rachel about speaking to your group or business.
See you again next week!
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