3 Techniques to Coming Up With Great Ideas

Brainstorming is fun. I love coming up with new ideas and seeing where my imagination takes me. There is so much to learn and so many ways to get the creativity flowing. Have you tried any of these techniques to come up with great ideas?
 
Clustering
Clustering is a technique I learned in the 90s when I began my correspondence writing course with the Institute of Children's Literature. The idea is to write down a few random words, write new words that you associate with those random words, and then come up with an idea based on all of the words that have taken shape on your piece of paper.
 
How It Works
You pick three words randomly (I draw words from a box filled with slips of paper, one word written on each slip), write them down on a piece of paper, draw a circle around each one, then spend about five minutes doing a "free association" session, writing down words that come to mind as you think about each of the words. The new words you write down become new focus words. Below is a snapshot of what a cluster looks like.
 
Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is similar to clustering, but it allows for sentence-based ideas. You develop your ideas for your blog posts, articles, or stories as you go, as opposed to writing single words down.
 
How It Works
There isn't a wrong way to use mind maps. The idea is to get your ideas down. Spend about 5-10 minutes thinking about ideas and write down what comes to mind. Here is an example:
 
 
Reviewing Books
Flipping through books in your industry or niche is a great way to come up with blog post, article, or story ideas. Reading a lot will also help you get ideas, and writing a lot will help get those creative juices flowing. The more involved you are, the more ideas you'll have.
 
How It Works
Find a book in your niche or genre. Then as you turn the pages of the book, think about how you could use the information for a blog post, article, or story. Write down your ideas in a notebook to use later. To get ideas for children's stories and articles, I flip through my What Life Was Like books, which contain some very interesting historical information that readers might be interested in. I also have a book on life in the 1800s which has a wealth of information that can give me some great ideas on topics.
 
Your turn to share! What tools do you use to come up with new ideas?
Jody Calkins
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Jody Calkins

Freelance Writer & Book Editor at Emery Road Writing Services, LLC
Jody Calkins is a Freelance Writer & Book Editor, Writer's Coach, Content Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Pilot's Wife. Her unique talent is as a Back-to-Basics Step-By-Step Writing Expert who currently serves hundreds of clients in over 50 countries. Her editing services and training programs help novelists improve their writing skills, get motivated to write, improve productivity and time management, and battle self-doubt and other roadblocks. She works with middle-grade, young adult, and adult books in a variety of genres including Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller, and Self-Help.
Jody Calkins
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  • Eric

    Jody! Call me blind but, I never saw where I could post before. Anyways, I enjoyed your post. I actually like all of them. Thank you for sharing, please keep posting.

  • Olga

    Yeah Jodi, your posts are very insightful! Really enjoy reading them!

  • Vicky Horner 3637

    Great tips for when we’re feeling like “the well is dry”. I write down ideas, words and phrases and keep them in a folder on my computer “desktop” to revisit from time to time.

  • These are some good ideas Jody. I really like the MInd Mapping one. Gotta try that!
    Thanks as always…your posts are always fun to read.

  • They are great ideas. I have been mind mapping for a bit now, but the book idea is a good one.

  • Anonymous

    Great Ideas

  • Love the brainstorming ideas!! From someone who has used them all at one time or other before – they all work and help you think in different ways. Just finding a quiet moment to think and get the “cogs moving” (as my husband calls it) will produce so many good ideas!! Thanks for the reminder.

  • I’m always interested in seeing how others get inspired to write. A few of the things I do are looking at other bloggers in my niche as well as youtube.

  • Great suggestions. One way I generate blog post ideas is to use a magazine that’s not in my niche. Here’s an article I wrote that details the entire process: http://procrastinatingwritersblog.com/2011/05/a-backlog-of-writing-ideas/ but basically what you do is grab a magazine and then use the headlines to brainstorm post ideas.

    For example, Cosmo might have a headline that says: “10 Tricks You Should Try In The Bedroom”… but I could take that headline and turn it into: “10 Tricks You Should Try When Writing Your Next Article.”

    Simple, effective.

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