How to Squeeze Writing Inspiration from Every Experience

This article, by Mary Jaksch, originally appeared on Write To Done on 3/9/09.

Do you have days where you sit in front of  an empty page  – and find nothing, absolutely nothing you could write about? I used to. But now I’ve learned to squeeze inspiration from every experience.

What, every experience? Yes, I know it sounds a tall order. Read on to see how it works.

The secret of creativity

First of all we need to determine what triggers creativity. It’s quite simple:

Creative innovation happens through communication between regions of the brain that are not usually connected. (You can read more about that here).

Let’s imagine that you want to write an article about social media. Your page is empty and your brain is on slow-go. Then you start making a list of points you want to cover:

viral news

Does this list inspire you? Does is trigger ideas in your brain? Well, not in my brain! At this point I still can’t find any theme connected to social media that I might want to write about.

Now let’s take a different tack in order to kick-start creativity: we’ll choose an unrelated idea and hold it up against our theme ‘social media’. What we’re doing at that moment is to connect two different areas in the brain.

Let’s say that the word we choose to connect with ‘social media’ is ‘potato’. Wacky, eh?

Just pause for a moment and see what your brain comes up with when you connect ‘social media’ and ‘potato’.

Here is what happens in my brain when I connect the two concepts:

  • Potatoes grow underground and you can’t see them from above / You can’t understand social media by looking in from the outside.
  • You only get to see the size of the  harvest when you dig up your potatoes/ It takes a time to see the result of ongoing social media cultivation
  • Potatoes are a staple diet/ Your communication on social media allows people to get to know the ‘ordinary’ you.
  • There are endless recipes to cook potatoes/ Each social media has its own style and you need to adapt to it

Ok – that was just a five minute harvest of ideas to illustrate how creativity works. Even though I didn’t come up with any brilliant mind flashes, what I did get was four different themes for an article. So, if you were to connect ‘social media’ with twenty different unrelated things, such as door handles, cats, rain, hunger, rainforest, or … you name it, you would end up with 100 ideas for articles about social media. That’s better than none, isn’t it?

Read the rest of the article on Write To Done.