Do you need to jump start your brain or create a new project? Are you facing writer‘s block? Do you want to find new creative ideas for writing an article, book, or blog? Whether you’re a seasoned writer, a wannabe just getting started, or an entrepreneur craving new ventures, here are five ways to find creative ideas and start your fingers flying:
1. Creative Ideas by Journaling
Keep your “quiet times” with the Lord fresh and up to date. My book shelf is filled with notebook journals where I’ve penned inspirational thoughts from reading God’s Word. Five minutes on the run might satisfy temporarily, but a writer thirsty to hear from God needs chunks of time: time to think, time to read, time to pray and digest. The majority of my books were born from the pages of those journals. Sometimes the ideas come from Scripture, like my two books, 40 Days in God’s Presence, and 40 Days in God’s Blessing series. Other times, I just write my impressions and thoughts from events and life around me.
Whether you use a notebook, a computer, or other device to journal, just do it. Give yourself time to think. Half a writer’s time may involve thinking and meditating about the things you see, read, and hear. And if your journal or device is not handy? I’ve known songwriters who have written their song lyrics on restaurant napkins. Keep a notebook–or something to write on–with you at all times.
Lately, one of the places I’ve found creative ideas is in our church worship service. Inevitably, either during the praise service as the words and music sweep through my spirit, or during the message, ideas begin to flow. I do take sermon notes, but the bulletin also becomes my temporary journal page as well. I confess that at times I’ve even grabbed a small notebook or piece of paper by my bedside to scribble an idea down before I lost it–yes, in the middle of the night–yes, in the dark. As I grow older, I realize ideas will no longer hover around my brain like a buzzard over fresh kill. If I don’t write it immediately, the idea may vanish into the night. 🙂
2. Creative Ideas through Life Experience
Have you been through a crisis? Learned any new lessons? Make a list of the things you’ve learned. What stories can you tell from your own life growing up, as a child, as a teen, from your marriage, from places you’ve been. What have you experienced that could minister to someone else? What humorous things have happened to you? Most of my early books, articles, and even blogs have evolved from life experiences–as a child, a wife, a mom, a friend–always with the hope that it might encourage someone else.
My first solo book, At Home in My Heart, Preparing a Place for His Presence, was born from both personal life experiences and journaled thoughts. And my devotional series, Day-votions® for Women, Day-votions® for Mothers®, and Day-votions® for Grandmothers were also conceived from life experiences, along with Bible principles.
3. Creative Ideas in Nature
Nothing inspires me more than being out in God’s creation, whether it’s in my own backyard, at a mountain retreat, or beside a lazy river. Many of my blogs originated from nature, including the two-blog series, “Lessons from Alaska about God’s Character and Ours.” If you’re stuck in a rut and the walls are closing in, take a break if at all possible. Plan for a brief getaway, go for a walk, or just go outside for a change of pace. And when you are blessed to go on vacation, don’t forget to take your notebook or computer (and I don’t mean for checking e-mail or Facebook) for recording fresh inspiration.
4. Creative Ideas through Photography
As a greeting card writer, photos are especially helpful to me when looking for creative ideas. But they’ve also created inspiration for articles and blogs. In fact, I’ve become so interested in photography that I often spend as much time finding the right photo as I do the blog itself. Buy yourself a good camera, and watch for photogenic opportunities.
You can also view (and use) pics from free photo places online such as stock.xchng. Or look at old greeting cards, your own photo albums, or visit an art gallery. Ask yourself questions about the photos: “What if’?” “Why?” I love to watch for unusual objects and scenes that might jump start my creativity later.
5. Creative Ideas in Books, Movies, and Newspapers
You’ve heard it before. Good writers are readers. What we read, like what we eat, affects and influences us. Well-written books and inspiring movies embed themselves in your brain, feeding you inspiration and creativity. Vary your reading to include biography, fiction, and non-fiction. Good books will jumpstart your thoughts positively. Many fiction writers have gleaned working plots from newspaper articles. Truth is still stranger than fiction.
I can always tell when my thoughts become dull and uninteresting. I’ve stopped stretching, growing, learning, and reading. I average reading at least one book each week to two weeks each year. I’d like to read even more. You’d be amazed at the odd times you can find to read if you really want to.
In fact, you’ll be amazed at the ideas you’ll find, the things you’ll write, and the creations you’ll make–if you really want to. I have found that as I seek first to know God intimately, then offer my life as a blank page to the Lord, He fills my file folder full of creative ideas–many of which were born from places like these.
And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.” Habakkuk 2:2-3, The Message
What about you? What sparks your creativity? Where do you get your creative ideas?