Inertia: A tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.
For me, creativity suffers from a major case of inertia. When nothing is flowing, it feels impossible to get ideas moving. But once I wake the elusive Genius, ideas seem to flow so freely. Whatever speed at which creativity begins moving, it seems to want to stay at that pace and avoid change (much like most of life I suppose).
Some days I have a gazillion post ideas firing through my mind and can’t seem to write them down fast enough. It feels like a rush of inspiration racing past my brain and, if not careful, ideas not “caught” will become missed opportunities. It actually reminds me of a Ted Talk I watched several months ago by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, in which she discusses her creative “genius.” I discussed the talk a while back as well.
In the talk, she refers to another friend who uses an analogy that her ideas rumble toward her like an heard of buffalo storming over rolling hills. And if she didn’t immediately sit down to capture all the ideas and inspiration as they passed, they would be gone. The ideas were not hers, but those of her genius who elected to show up and share its creativity or pass her by, out of her control.
At times, I feel like this is me. Don’t get me wrong – on other days, my rush of ideas looks more like a dried up river, empty of any sort of life or energy. I suspect you may have had those days, blog writer or not. We all need inspiration at various times in our lives for one thing or another and, some days, we’ve just got nothin’.
But I wanted to share with you today some of the places I find inspiration for new ideas – new blog post ideas, new things to talk about with my clients at oh-so-scary networking events, new outfits to wear to the office, new ideas for whatever realm of my life is requiring me to think beyond regularly brushing my teeth and showering.
When I feel these aforementioned surges of ideas ready to bust out of my brain, I do my best to take notes as a draft post, in my phone, on a stray sheet of paper, or wherever I can find to forever lock them somewhere to return to them at a later (and more convenient) time. Ultimately, they all end up in Evernote. If you haven’t tried Evernote, it’s the best one stop shop for replacing your memory. And since I pretty much have no memory, Evernote has been a lifesaver. (For the record, it does a lot more than replace my memory and organize my thoughts. But you can take a deeper dive if you’re interested.)
In my blogging life, that more convenient time might be say, when I can actually sit down and write the entire post while at the computer. In my personal style journey, that might be when I’m actually in my closet and not day dreaming up potential outfits while stuck in Chicago’s gridlock traffic on the way home from a client visit. But I’m not always so lucky. At times, I snag the ideas from the storm racing past me enough to remember down the road all the wonderful prose that was flowing through my mind. Other times, however, I miss the spark entirely or can’t capture enough to come back to it in its entirety later on. I can only hope it takes another run past my mental creativity claws so I have a second chance to scoop it up, groom it, and share it with you.
But on days when the engulfing heard of ideas from my Genius isn’t running across the open Serengeti of my mind or safely parked in Evernote, I have to work a bit harder to energize and wake up that Genius. As we all experience those mentally exhausted, uninspired days, I wanted to share with you a few of the places I start searching in hopes of finding the right energy to rejuvenate my Genius and some example posts born from each source.
I follow other bloggers in my niche as well as several who write about topics very different from my own. I also follow many Twitter users who operate in spaces tangent to my blog space or that I just find interesting on their own accord. Links to great articles that “make me think” filter into my feed regularly. When something strikes my curiosity or my creative Genius, I favorite the tweet, memorialize any mental notes that popped into my head in Evernote, and trust I have a reserve of inspiration for an uninspired day.
(FYI: I use IFTTT, a web-based application that automates various routine tasks. It stands for If This Than That. When I favorite a tweet, a new note in Evernote is created which includes a tagline from and link to that tweet ensuring it’s parked in a safe place for me to return to later. I can then add notes or comments directly in that note and, often, begin writing many of my posts in Evernote with their corresponding inspiration.)
You NEED To Know About The Skimm (I found both The Skimm and Farnam Street through Twitter)
To be Pinspired~ Isn’t inspiration the whole point of this platform? We’ve created a whole new word to worship the high level at which Pinterest has inspired us. Although it’s obvious, I’ll summarize my sources of idea generation from this lovely site.
I have a The Business of Business Casual board and a Casual Chic board that both serve as great fuel for my creative personal style fire. I borrowed lists of blog post ideas (on my Business of Blogging board, or hiding out on my secret Blog Ideas board – we all need some special, secret source for really desperate days) from so many others who have created more specific topics that might get my creative Genius revved up. See my series on Using Pinterest to Maximize Your Wardrobe for specific tips on collecting the components pinned to these boards.
I use Bloglovin’ and Feedly to provide a central feed of the latest posts from my favorite bloggers. I mark as “favorite” or “pin” to Pinterest posts that excite, impress or influence me to return to them again at a later date. (Here also I use Evernote and IFTTT. When I mark a post in Feedly as “Save for Later” a similar note to that described above from a favorited tweet is generated in Evernote for later reference.)
Link ups have been a great way to find new inspiring bloggers as well. I host a weekly Sophisticated Style Link Up each Monday and so many other bloggers host similar forums as well. While I would never copy another writer’s ideas, I have used fellow bloggers’ posts as starting points for my own posts; I may post a response to their post, may follow tips or tricks they share and blog about my execution, or just share another spin on the same topic.
Books, Magazines & Periodicals
For me, I read the Wall Street Journal, the daily local business updates, In Style, and when in line at the grocery store or in a doctor’s office waiting room, the trashy tabloids that feel like a bad car accident – you want to look away but you just can’t help yourself. When I come across something that just might be good food to nourish my Genius, I pull out Evernote (on my phone) and make some notes for later.
I’ve also recently read various fashion and style books I snagged from our local library and used Post-It notes to mark passages I liked or that may be material on which to build future posts. Before returning the books, I circled back to all my Post-Its and documented in Evernote the ideas that still seemed relevant and interesting. I’ll revisit Evernote occasionally to follow through on the brainstorming sessions I’ve “put to paper” there.
After my recent discovery of audio books, I’ve been consuming far more literature and non fiction work to flush my brain full of inspiration.
And of course, I read my daily dose of The Skimm, which I first shared with you earlier this week.
I use this mostly for outfit ideas. The outfits created in Polyvore often include pieces far above my budget. But I have used various sets created by other, much more artistic contributors, to inspire color combinations, pattern mixing, and more.
Often times, readers send emails with various questions. On some occasions, I respond to these questions by writing a post. I will certainly respond to the reader email as well and will direct them to the post for their desired answer.
A Visit To Chicago (requested by a reader planning a trip to my stomping grounds)
Planned Posts / Editorial Calendar
So I obviously don’t find inspiration in a planned post, but I do use an “editorial calendar.” I have no fancy programs or resources. I have a Google calendar with post ideas for each day over the next several weeks. Not only does this help track planned collaborations and commitments, but I can throw a general idea onto the calendar and, when the time arrives to write that post and if I have no other pressing ideas, I always have a fall back!
Scarves week on the blog was a product of my editorial calendar!
Literally ~ Take a walk outside. I live in the city so the sidewalks overflow with interesting people. One might have on an interesting outfit or be wearing an inspiring hairstyle. I could stop in a store and admire my surroundings to see what captures my attention.
Figuratively ~ Step away from the computer and embrace a moment of silence (or several). It’s that internally peaceful ten minutes in the shower or calming period just before we fall asleep where we can clear our minds and make space for epiphanies. Even if you’re not showering or nearly sleeping, stop trying so hard to THINK and leave some blank space for new ideas to creep in on their own. I bet something very cool will show up with a bit of patience!
Whatever your source of inspiration, let go of the pressure. The stress we create on ourselves to generate ever-new and exciting ideas seems to be the biggest blockade to those ideas entering our brains. If we don’t post for a few days, wear the same five outfits each week for a while, or have a moment of awkward silence with our client at a happy hour, nothing will be lost. We’ll have another opportunity to strike creative gold and elicit our Genius tomorrow!
Additionally, there are a billion websites on the Internet that all have created similar summaries of blog post inspiration or long lists of idea prompts. You can find many of them, but I wanted to share the best one I have found so far which includes a host of ideas I didn’t share with you today. The site, Amplifound, also had a bunch of other great posts, several of which I pinned to my Business of Blogging Pinterest board.
Ultimately, I think the single best source of finding new ideas is just to pay attention to the world around you. And when you find something you like, make a note of it. Maybe in Evernote! Let the ideas percolate and after some time ruminating in your mind, they’ll be ready to cast into the worldwide reach of your blog.
So now, after a long-winded answer from me, let’s here from you! Do you have any great ideas not included here? If so, tell us all about them.