The Importance of Idea Generation

These days ideas are like currency to me. I can see how much they have been the key to even my smallest wins. When I have great ideas that I see through, I get immediate gratification for seeing it through. Well, the good ones. The truth is, not every idea is going to be a great idea, but that’s, even more, the reason why we should come up with many every day. Some will fall through the cracks and some will lead you to some places you never thought you could reach.

As a writer, it’s no different. Part of being a great writer is looking at the world through a special lens. Noticing the things that most other people don’t. Finding new ways to phrase things that people have felt for centuries. Very quickly after starting a blog I realized just how much work it was to come up with new content week after week. I had to listen in close to conversations, and use some of the things that I was watching and so on. It’s key to always come up with ideas that you can come back to later.

It’s even easier for us now that we have phones with notepads built into them, but you should be writing ideas down all the time.

Don’t try to wait until you get home to remember it, you will not. You have to stop in that moment and write it. And then the other part of that is remembering to actually go through that list of ideas every now and then.

Many writers have talked to me about struggling with writer’s block. I rarely have this problem. First and foremost, part of our job as writers is to live. So the more that we are living and experiencing different things, the more we have to write about. So, if you’ve been feeling clogged in the writing department lately, it’s probably because you have not been saying yes to living. Secondly, what has been a big help is writing ideas all the time.

The other day, I saw a tweet about a new literary publication being produced by the Free Library here in Philadelphia. But the problem was, the deadline was literally in a day. If it wasn’t for the fact that I literally write ideas, pieces of stories, parts of blog posts, all the time, I would have missed a pretty great opportunity. They haven’t made their selections yet, but what if I had counted myself out already by not even being prepared to submit? See I didn’t have to try to make up something from scratch which might have been subpar anyway. I pulled out a book that I write random stories in, polished it up and hit submit. This is a major advantage to writing ideas all the time. Whether they’re finished or not.

I am also a person who suffers from extreme idea overwhelm at times. Ha! So I practice a method that I learned from Nicole Waters called the idea box. Now for writing ideas I just tend to write them in my notebook or on my phone. But for bigger projects, I write them on an index card and then file them in the idea box based on the time frame in which I think the project should be completed. So it goes, 1-3 months, 3-6 months, and beyond. I also have a section for completed ideas which gives me the confidence to keep going. The caveat is to try to only work on one idea at a time before pulling the other out. The advantage for those of us who have minds on overload is that we don’t have to keep the idea swirling around in our heads making us crazy. When you write it down, it’s safe, you’ll remember it and you can free up that brain space for the actual execution.

The more you get into writing your ideas down all the time, I promise you, the more ideas you will have.

And the more ideas you have, well the possibilities are endless for those books, articles, events, whatever it is that you want to do to grow and be successful.

::: Ashley M. Coleman, Author + Writing Coach

Here are a few resources to consider for your idea generation.

- The Success Principles, Jack Canfield was the first book that I read that talked about the importance of idea generation. It also has tons of other gems that you can apply. Literally one of the first books that changed my whole mindset.

- Idea Box - Just grab some 3x5 cards (I like colorful ones because I’m extra) and an index card box. It already comes with dividers and instead of using them by letters, I turned them around to write out the time increments.

- Keep a Notebook – I know we are in this age of technology, but I love being able to flip back through a notebook and see ideas that were complete and some things that I never started to pick back up again. And I mean, who needs an excuse to buy another cute notebook?

Ashley Coleman