Be Creative Be Inspired By Mary Jaksch Sometimes it’s a struggle to find what to write about, don’t you agree? A blog is like a hungry beast, always asking for more. Sometimes, you’re stuck and just can’t get anything onto a page. It happens to me too. A short while ago I was on a flight from Thailand to New Zealand and I was determined to write a post. I opened my laptop, put my hands on the keyboard, and focused hard. What happened? Nothing. Nada, Nichts. I couldn’t think of anything to write about. So I packed away my laptop, stretched, had a gin-and-tonic, looked around, and finally watched a movie. As soon as I let go of the idea that I should write a blogpost, and focused on my present experience, ideas began to flow. In fact, after the movie, I jotted down over fifteen blog post ideas (including the one I’m using right now). How to focus on input rather than output Let’s forget about writing for a moment. Imagine that you want to drive a car, but the tank is empty. How far can you drive? The answer is simple: you can’t drive anywhere. It’s the same with creativity. You need to put in fuel before you take it for a drive. So here is a list of things that can refuel your creativity. Some of these points may resonate with you, while others may not. That’s okay. The best way forward is to go with what works for you. 1. Blogs As you know, there are millions of blogs out there. Choose blog topics you enjoy, and read posts. In particular, check out what successful bloggers are writing about. You’ll find inspiration for your own writing. I don’t mean knocking off someone else’s work. I’m talking about finding your own take on specific topics. 2. Beautiful images When you muse on images, your brain can make new connections. Take a look at the beautiful collection of free images on MorgueFile. Scroll down and let your mind float free. 3. Overheard conversation It’s a great idea to collect interesting snippets of dialogue. When I was on the long-haul flight, I stood behind two women. Here’s what I heard: ‘Hey, you’re wearing two different sneakers!’ ‘Boris got into my shoe cupboard this morning.’ ‘Boris? That a new boyfriend?’ ‘Nah! It’s my new pitbull terrier…’ This snippet is a story, waiting to be written, or it could be a seed of a blogpost. 4. Books I love reading books! They are treasure troves of inspiration. Both fiction and non-fiction can fuel your creativity. Here’s a passage from The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: My dreams for the most part were muddied with the same indeterminate anxiety that bled through into my waking hours: court cases, luggage burst open on the tarmac with my clothes scattered everywhere and endless airport corridors where I ran for planes I knew I’d never make. This quote inspired me to write about pervasive anxiety. Here’s a snippet from Learned Optimism by Martin E. P. Seligman: In order to choose people for success in a challenging job, you need to select for three characteristics: 1. aptitude, 2. motivation, 3. optimism. All three determine success. The quote above could trigger many ideas for articles, don’t you think? 5. Magazines If all else fails, buy a magazine and leaf through it. You’ll come away with at least five new ideas for blog posts and articles. In particular, you can get a sense of what people really want to read about. 6. Movies Movies can be great sources of inspiration. Stories, dialogue, themes, challenges, conflict – everything can boost your creativity. Just make sure you’ve got a notebook handy to jot down ideas directly after seeing a movie. 7. Newspapers Look for stories about people who have triumphed over adversity. For example, I made a note of the amazing story of the American climber John All. He fell into a deep crevasse in the Himalayas, narrowly escaping certain death. Badly injured, it took him six hours to climb out of the crevasse, and another three hours to reach his tent. He spent the night in pain before rescuers reached him the next morning. Afterward he said, “I thought I was going to die. There was no way out. I was alone.” This kind of story could be the kernel of many different kinds of posts and articles. 8. History Great people in history can inspire you to greatness. Gandhi, William the Conqueror, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Leonardo da Vinci, and many more. Go to Wikipedia to read about their lives. 9. Friends Conversations with friends – whether face-to-face, on the phone, on Skype or by chat – can boost your creativity. What are your friends worried about? What are their challenges? Your inside knowledge of what moves or agitates people can lead to your best posts. 10. Quotes Great quotes help inspire you. Here are two examples of quotes that inspired me: Failure is an event, not a person. (Zig Ziglar) I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. (Hemingway) Yes, quotes can trigger ideas of what you want to write about. How to capture your ideas The key to boosting your creativity is to use a writing journal. Just a plain notebook will do. Or, you may want to set up a file on your phone or tablet. The trick is to carry it with you, wherever you go. Write down thoughts, quotes, pieces of good writing, snippets of dialogue, plot ideas, or new characters. But you need to record your ideas immediately. If you have an idea for a blog post or article, write down the core idea and add any bullet points that occur to you. Whenever you’re stuck for ideas, you can look through your writing journal and find instant inspiration to refuel your creativity. What refuels your creativity? Please share your thoughts in the comments.