4 Simple Ways to Train Your Creativity to Find Unlimited Topic Ideas

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

When I first began writing two and a half years ago, I thought I had tons of ideas to write. Three months later, I was struggling to come up with anything.

It felt like all had been said before. Nothing seemed “new” or even “interesting”. I felt awful. I wondered how everybody else still found ideas. I don’t anymore. Not all my ideas are great but I have found a bottomless well from where I pick my ideas.

This isn’t an easy trik. It’s a process. But the longer you do it, the easier it becomes. The better your average idea becomes — because, yes, some will still be downright awful. And also, the more fun you’ll have looking for your next amazing idea.

Start with finding three ideas a day

If you’ve ever searched for “how to find good ideas” online, you’ve probably fallen upon James Altucher’s tip of finding 10 ideas per day. I couldn’t agree more. The concept, however, seems too simple to work and too hard to apply in real life. Finding 10 ideas on a good day is easy. It’s not when nothing’s gone well for you today.

When I first tried to look for 10 ideas per day, I struggled. I skipped days. I skipped weeks even. Now I do it every weekday without mumbling. To get to this point, instead of following his advice, I chose to look for 3 ideas a day. After I lasted a few months, I increased it to 5 per day. A few months later, I raised it to 10 a day. I then stopped looking for ideas during the weekends. What I fall upon, I note, but I don’t look for any anymore. It’s all bonus.

Start small to make it an easy habit to add. If you want, start with finding two ideas per day. You want to make it achievable yet challenging. When it stops being challenging, increase the number.

When you get to 10 a day, you’ll struggle at first. I’ve been at it for over 3 months now and still struggle sometimes. It’s nothing compared to when I first began though. One idea often leads to another and then another.

The first idea of the day is the hardest. That’s why I often use one of the below methods to find the first one.

Question the sentences you read

This is my favorite method of all because it challenges my sometimes-too-conformist mind. I pick an article’s title or even a random sentence I fall upon and transform it into its opposite. From there, I let my mind have fun.

Let’s take an example. In this interesting piece by My Bilingual Life, the writer has a whole section about practicing with native speakers or other learners. Looking at it, I asked myself a question. “What if you are afraid of speaking to native speakers?”. This made me think of ways to get over that fear and I wrote this article.

In another example, when I read the title “Productivity Doesn’t Have to Be Miserable and Doomed for Failure” by Sean Kernan, I agreed with him on the spot. Still, I asked myself. “Why should productivity be doomed for failure?” and looked for ways to prove it should. I then thought of the importance of boredom and why doing nothing helps the brain make new connections, therefore increasing what we could accomplish later.

This habit helps in finding new angles for ideas you already have. It also helps in noticing new angles for topics you think you’ve covered as much as you could.

I’ve written at the very least 300 articles about language-learning and I still have tons of other angles to try out. There are topics I’ve only flown over and need a closer look at. There are ones I’ve dug deep and need to be looked from further up. That’s why I often look at my own old articles and ask myself to prove the opposite as an exercise.

Make random connections to your life

Whenever I’m in my idea-creating session, I look at my surroundings and choose a random object. From there on, I tried to make a connection to some of my experiences or beliefs.

For example, I have next to me a small statue of Ninomiya Sontoku, the figure of seriousness in Japan. As a child, he carried blocks of wood on his back while reading books to instruct himself. Looking at him reminds me of times I walked while listening to Chinese and Korean podcasts. That will become an example in an article I’ll write later.

Even better, I try to make 3 completely unrelated connections as often as I can. This stretches my imagination further.

In this example, I could think of my cousin who owns a farm and recently started to sell his potatoes directly to customers at a small market to improve his business. I could also think of the importance of working on one’s own body and mind at the same time because they are both important to stay healthy.

Will any of these ideas become articles later? Probably not. (These aren’t my best, by far!) But the exercise forces me to stretch my thoughts’ boundaries. The more you stretch your thoughts to further realms, the easier it becomes. And the more varied your ideas will become.

Revisit old ideas in different moods

I’ve been writing 10 ideas per weekday for 3 months but I’ve been saving as many ideas as possible for close to two years now. I have a list of close to 2,000 potential ideas. Most of which will never see the light of day.

Once every few days, I have a look at very old ideas while listening to music. I then try to reframe them, see if I still agree with them, and what I could change.

Listening to music is a crucial component of this process because I purposefully listen to different types of music. One day I’ll be reading an old idea while listening to sentimental music. Another I’ll be doing so while listening to rap or the sounds of Japanese cicadas. Or listening to rock or reggae.

What you perceive changes based on your mood. And music changes your mood. That’s why revisiting old ideas in different moods can help you find amazing new ones. The longer the list of ideas you have, the easier this step becomes. But it’s still worth doing it as soon as one month after beginning to save your ideas.

I love this method because I get transported to a different time in a different mood each time. That’s how some of my articles about languages are more sentimental while some others will be more methodic or focused on telling a story while staying as objective as possible.

Final thoughts

Finding new ideas doesn’t have to be as hard as you might be thinking. On the contrary, it should be exciting. I used to struggle with finding new topic ideas. I now love it. The entire process transports me.

Remember, however, this one important aspect of creativity. Everything you come up with will need to have a connection to your life or feelings. If you don’t go out and live life, you can’t hope to make original connections.

Go out. Have fun. Always keep a pen in hand or a note app close to you. Ideas will arise one after the other. It might take time, but you’ll never look back when your brain cannot stop having new ideas.

Even when most of them are plain awful.


Page 2

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

When I first began writing two and a half years ago, I thought I had tons of ideas to write. Three months later, I was struggling to come up with anything.

It felt like all had been said before. Nothing seemed “new” or even “interesting”. I felt awful. I wondered how everybody else still found ideas. I don’t anymore. Not all my ideas are great but I have found a bottomless well from where I pick my ideas.

This isn’t an easy trik. It’s a process. But the longer you do it, the easier it becomes. The better your average idea becomes — because, yes, some will still be downright awful. And also, the more fun you’ll have looking for your next amazing idea.

Start with finding three ideas a day

If you’ve ever searched for “how to find good ideas” online, you’ve probably fallen upon James Altucher’s tip of finding 10 ideas per day. I couldn’t agree more. The concept, however, seems too simple to work and too hard to apply in real life. Finding 10 ideas on a good day is easy. It’s not when nothing’s gone

Go to Source