One of the biggest frustrations for online marketers is struggling to come up with a continuous flow of engaging ideas. Think about it, with the rise of digital marketing, the average online coach now needs to come up with marketing ideas for…
- At least 5 weekly social media posts
- An email or maybe two per week
- A weekly blog, vlog or podcast
- Regular paid ad copy
- Programme sales pages
- Web pages
- Opt-in pages
You probably feel like you’re stuck on a hamster wheel. You’re spitting out pages and pages of copy, like a broken fax machine.
But what happens when you run out of ideas?
How can you continue to churn out winning ideas, even when you feel like you’ve hit a bit of a Story Wall?
In this week’s video I share some practical strategies to help you generate consistent story ideas, even if you’re feeling uninspired. Check out the video below.
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Hey Anna here. Today I wanted to share with you some tips and strategies on how you can generate consistent story ideas, even when you’re not really feeling in the mood or you’re lacking in inspiration.
I wanted to start off by thinking a little bit about where creative ideas come from and how that differs from the parts of your brain that you need to write those ideas down and tell your stories and your marketing.
What we know is that words and language happen in the left hemisphere of the brain. But the creative idea generation happens in various different brain centers dotted all over the place and scientists aren’t yet sure exactly how creativity works inside the brain – but we know that it’s extremely complex.
What we don’t want to do is try and generate ideas at the same time as writing them, because we’re drawing on very very different parts of the brain and it makes the task virtually impossible.
I wanted to run through with you some strategies to help you segregate the two activities so that when you’re writing your writing and when you’re generating ideas, you’re generating ideas. That’s going to make the whole process feel much less full of friction and frustration.
Okay, so where do ideas come from?
When we think about creativity we often think of it as some kind of innate skill that were either born with or not born with. Actually creativity is really just pulling together of two old ideas, fusing them together and turning it into something new. So to give you an example. One of my favorite drinks is a matcha latte and what that is, is a traditional Japanese tea drink made up of ground green tea leaves and a fusion of an Italian coffee drink called the Latte, which you’re probably very familiar with.
That creative idea came from fusing two different cultures and two different ideas, merging them together and creating something new.
So neither one of those things was particularly innovative. It was just that somebody came along and took two different ideas and merged them together and that’s really all we’re trying to do when we’re telling stories. We’re connecting two seemingly unrelated ideas and merging them together so that they make sense.
Creativity isn’t something that you’re born with, it’s just the way that we look at creativity that can hold people back. Now, how can you set yourself up with the conditions to generate the maximum number of ideas?
First of all, I want you to spend some time reflecting. Have a think about the conditions and the situations that you’re in, where you tend to come up with your best ideas.
Are there any commonalities or similarities in those situations?
So for me, I tend to have my best ideas when i’m standing in the shower, or if i’m going for a walk by myself, or if i’m sitting in the car. What’s important about these situations is that i’m in silence. I’m not sticking a podcast on and i’m not watching a YouTube video. It’s when my brain has the time to wander and that’s when I come up with my ideas. For everybdoy, this is going to be slightly different – your creative time might happen more when you’re sitting in the bath or you might need to meditate to come up with ideas. Just have a little think about what the situations are for you when you come up with your best ideas.
The next thing to come up with better ideas, is to be curious – have some curiosity. So read lots of books, watch films, read articles, absorb art. If you come across anything that you want an answer to, dig into it,
find out about things, learn, be curious and spend time developing an understanding about the way the world works and how everything fits together.
By amassing more knowledge and having curiosity about the way the world works – that is when you’re going to start fusing different ideas together.
Now, the next way to boost creative idea generation is to have some kind of incubation period. Once you’ve reflected on the situations where you tend to come up with your ideas, you want to recreate those conditions and then give yourself incubation time to connect the different strands of your knowledge together.
So give yourself the headspace where you allow your mind just to wander and start fusing together those ideas. It’s tempting especially with all the access we have to information and to podcasts and to blogs and all this kind of thing, to constantly be trying to fill your time. We don’t tend to like being bored, but it’s in those periods of boredom that we have our best ideas. Just allow yourself to stop seeing boredom as a feeling of massive discomfort and embrace the boredom. Learn to live with it and sit with it, and that’s when you’re going to start having your best ideas. That incubation period is crucial because if your mind is constantly busy, if you’re constantly scrolling through social media to fill your time, you’re never going to give your brain the time to process the information and to start coming up with creative ideas.
The last thing you can do to boost creative idea generation is to do creativity workouts. Creativity is a bit like a muscle, you need to train those parts of your brain to start firing and the more you practice, the more natural it’s going to become. At first it’s going to feel a bit difficult. A bit like the first time you go to the gym if you’ve not been for months and months on end, you know that after you’ve had a session at the gym, your muscles feel tired and aching and it feels a bit painful to go back a second time. But the more you go, the more you train those muscles, the easier it becomes and it’s exactly the same with the creative parts of your brain.
Now it’s very important to separate your writing and your idea generation. As I mentioned earlier, the two aspects of writing stories require very different parts of your brain. Don’t try to generate ideas at the same time as writing your stories. Allow yourself to pay attention when you’re having an idea. Listen to your mind, listen to what it’s telling you because sometimes especially when we’re really busy, we tend not to listen to ourselves and we don’t listen to the voice inside our head and what it’s telling us. So pay attention to yourself a bit more and keep a note-taking app on your phone or have a pad and pen handy so that when you’re listening to yourself and you start to feel and hear these ideas coming, that you jot them down at that moment because often when we have an idea, we say to ourselves, ”I’ll just come back to it and I’ll write it down later.” But when you actually come to sit down and write, the idea has gone, it’s vanished as quickly as it came to you. So don’t allow that idea to disappear – write it down,
even if you think it might be rubbish.
Often what you’ll find is that the more ideas that you come up with, the more you’re going to have to filter out the bad ones from the good ones, but that’s okay. We all have naff ideas, but the point is to capture everything and then filter them out later. So don’t start to second-guess yourself
and think “is this idea good? is this idea bad?” just write everything down and then you can filter those out later when it’s actually time to write them. Refer back to your log when it comes time to write.
When it comes to the moment where you sit down and start to write social media posts, write an email, write a piece of promo material, you’ve got all those ideas already noted down, so that when it’s time to write, it’s time to write – it’s not time to strain your brain to come up with any ideas.
One final thing I quickly wanted to point out was that creativity really loves limitations. So rather than trying to pluck ideas out from this vast sea of infinite possibilities, try to follow some kind of framework. If you can put your ideas into a box where you’re only talking about a very specific number of different topics, that’s going to really help you to develop creative ideas. Often people will say to me, “Well, if I’m only talking about five different things surely that’s going to hamper my ability to come up with ideas?” Actually the more you limit yourself and the more you put your ideas into a box, the more you’re going to start noticing things that fit within the framework that you’re working too.
This visual is the framework that I work with my storytelling, but everybody is going to be different. Everybody’s going to have a different way of working. So I focus on a very limited number of areas that I tell stories about and by having that focus, i’m able to notice ideas that fit within my framework. That’s how I’m able to consistently come up with story ideas for myself and for my clients.
I hope that was helpful, if you enjoyed that you can check out some of my other blog
posts at www.wordistry.co.uk/blog.