Whether you’re an aspiring author, a freelance writer, a copywriter, or a content creator, the inevitable writer’s block can feel like a looming, dark cloud hovering just above your mind’s eye (or frontal cortex, if you want to get technical). Great writers know how to pull from their personal experiences – and have the ability to tell their story by painting a picture so vivid that the reader feels immediately connected to those same thoughts and feelings.
Building a connection with your audience is key to any successful story, blog, or social media post. While writing meaningful content that engages your audience every day can be difficult, we’re now living in a world where COVID-19 has stunted our physical freedom, and in turn, our ability to seek experiential forms of creative inspiration. Being able to connect to another artist’s work and feed off their creativity—through live music, museums, exhibits, and theatrical performances—has become non-existent in today’s world.
In this blog, we’ll give you some tips on how to get creative with your content ideation, creation, and strategy.
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” – Jack Kerouac.
Travelling is one of the most well-known ways to gain inspiration. Exposing yourself to other cultures actually improves cognitive flexibility by enhancing your depth and integrativeness of thought. While international travel is off the table for now, there are several ways you can inspire creative content while staying close to home.
Get out of the house, take a walk, sit in the park and people watch, grab a coffee – just make sure you’re soaking up some sun and getting fresh air. Leave your phone at home and see your surroundings through an outsider’s lens. Explore your neighbourhood and gain inspiration from the architecture and design of the houses around you. Flex that creative muscle and make up stories about the people who live within their walls!
A large part of being creative is not about being original, it’s about making associations in an original way. While writing about what interests you is a strong approach to any content writing strategy, it’s important to expose yourself to the ideas of others that you may not entirely understand or agree with.
Read widely, watch videos, and listen to podcasts that spark conflicting ideas or thoughts, because those feelings are equally as impactful in your content creation. Being passionate about and having an opinion on a broad range of topics will open your mind up to a variety of creative content ideas.
Toss your agenda to the side for this one and close your laptop. Grab a pen and paper and crack open that empty notebook you got for Christmas last year. Freewriting is a brainstorming technique that consists of putting down your thoughts as they arise. Let your subconscious thoughts and ideas flow, don’t stress about the content, spelling or grammar, and just have fun with it. There are tons of tools out there that can help prompt budding story ideas like Complete The Story, a guide that builds the narrative for you and is designed to transform a singular idea into a story. This type of creative writing will help you explore topics you might never have thought of otherwise!
Trusting yourself to remember all of your ideas takes a lot of energy and mental capacity. Considering the fact that our short term memory only lasts between 15 and 30 seconds, an idea can quite literally be fleeting. Whether you prefer to keep a physical notebook or use an app like Evernote, making a habit of writing down your thoughts, however unimportant they seem or unfinished they are, can help jog your memory.
Creative inspiration is spontaneous and rarely are we ready for an idea when it happens. In my personal experience, my best ideas come to me when I’m trying to sleep (overactive mind, anyone?), so I keep an ideas notebook on my bedside table for easy access.
[Tip: Actively try to remember and write down your dreams. This process can help you become acquainted with the most irrepressible parts of your brain and untap the full potential of your imagination.]
Sometimes finding the time to dig into your own bank of creative inspiration is just not possible – impending deadlines, multiple projects on the go, etc. The good news, however, is there are a plethora of free (or almost free) tools available online to help you strategically write creative content. For example, HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator allows you to enter up to five nouns for topics relating to what you’d like to write about and generates up to 250 blog topic ideas!
Keep a finger on the pulse of the industry you work in by subscribing to newsletters, podcasts, and other creative outlets that are dedicated to educating and inspiring their readership with new ways of doing things. In addition, by exposing yourself to other artist’s brand, tone, verbiage, and overall creativity you can get a better understanding of what works, what doesn’t, what you might want to do a deeper dive into, and so on.
Mind Maps are a great way to integrate creativity and technicality into your creative brainstorming process. They help the content creator organize ideas in a way that’s visually appealing by formulating a broader scope of a topic. Start your mind map with a general theme/topic in the biggest bubble, then branch out into smaller like-topics, and smaller like-topics from there.
Mind mapping increases your creativity and productivity because it identifies relationships among the different data and information, effectively improving your memory and retention.
For those on the go, only have a few minutes to spare, or need an extra boost of inspiration – here are some exercises that can be done in 10 minutes or less.
While everyone has varying processes when it comes to brainstorming and writing stellar creative content – the key takeaways to remember are to step out of your comfort zone, open your mind up to new ideas, and have fun with it! Creativity is a metaphorical muscle – in order to get better at writing, you have to strengthen it by practicing. At the end of the day, remember to take the time to write for yourself, not just for your audience.11