5 Ways to Boost Your Creativity — and Generate More and Better Article Ideas
As a magazine writer, ideas are your stock in trade. But if you keep dipping into the same idea well without refreshing it, it’s no wonder you’re coming up dry.
Here are five ways to refill your creativity well so you can keep on generating unique, salable ideas.
1. Read magazines — but not the ones you usually read.
If you want to write for women’s magazines, you probably read — well, a lot of women’s magazines. If you’re a technology writer, you read tech mags. Makes sense, right?
But one often-overlooked way to get the creative juices flowing is to read magazines outside your normal area of expertise.
You over there, the women’s magazine writer — why not take a look at the pets section of the newsstand? And you, the technology writer — how about browsing the music section?
To come up with unique ideas, you need to be constantly providing your brain with fresh content that it can assimilate and synthesize into new combinations. So the next time you’re at the newsstand, head on over to a section you usually skip.
2. Get literary.
Many of us freelancers spend all day reading and writing magazine articles, so the last thing we want to do with our time off is read some more.
But if you make an effort to read great writers, it will open your mind to new styles, phrasings, and ideas — which you’ll naturally incorporate when you’re brainstorming article topics.
I’m almost done with How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti, and her unconventional writing style and philosophical thinking really got the creative juices flowing.
3. Go away.
Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery to get a fresh outlook — and generate fresh ideas.
If you usually work at your dining room table (like yours truly), try working at a local café, on your front porch, or in the park.
Or move to a room you don’t usually work in. At my old house in New Hampshire, when I needed to think differently, I would move from the dining room to the window seat in our bedroom, where I could look out over the street. There was something about getting away from the usual grind that helped me see things in a different way.
And if you’re feeling flush? Take a weekend away. I recently took an impromptu weekend trip to Asheville, North Carolina, and being in such a radically different environment from where I live helped me feel refreshed and ready to get creative.
4. Get outside.
If you’re really stuck for ideas, head outside for some fresh air — without your work.
Take a walk around the block, go for a jog on a running trail, or relax for a while on a park bench. You could even just sit on your porch for a while — the important thing is that you do it without your laptop or phone.
This is just another way to clear your mind so you have room for new ideas to flow in.
5. find another way.
Try doing ordinary things in out-of-the-ordinary ways: When you go for a walk, take a new route. When you drive home from work, take the long way. Try writing with your left hand, or developing article ideas without using the letter E.
The point of all this is to jolt your brain out of its humdrum patterns that have you stuck and jump start the idea generation process.
How about you? What do you do when you feel stuck for ideas? Let us know in the Comments below!
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