Where do content topics come from? The secret to intentionally sparking your creativity

Staring at a blank page and feeling stuck and anxious about not being able to come up with a relevant topic to write about, is a very common scenario.

How do you tap into your creativity when your mind is blank?

There are a lot of factors that play into this scenario and the most important factor is – that your creativity needs a foundation of knowledge, experience, and inspiration to thrive.

In this article, I am going to look at the struggle of content topic creation from a creative perspective and share a few details about where creativity comes from, how you can feed it, spark it, and use it to create clarity and inspiration.

You need to feed your creativity

Creativity doesn’t appear out of nothing. Just like you, creativity needs food to thrive. It needs certain conditions to thrive and input that it can work with.

You have to feed your brain with impressions and experiences to give it something to work from. Imagine that every experience and every sensation or impression is stored quite randomly in a big container.

This container is your subconscious mind, and it has the frustrating habit of releasing its treasures quite randomly and notoriously not when you need or want it.

Creativity cannot be forced. But it can be sparked.

Before you can do that, you need to create an input “collection” from which you can work.

Every day, you are feeding your “collection” with your knowledge, experience, inspiration, frameworks, emotions, smells, images – literally anything that you can sense and generate in your brain.

Imagine your brain to be a big library with tons of books stored in random and non-systematic order.

As you go through your day, you are picking up impressions that you are not even aware of, and you are storing them in your big, chaotic “library”.

The bigger your “collection” - the greater, weirder, or more daring ideas it will generate. When you allow curiosity to guide you, then your “collection” will lead you to a richer imagination.

And the beauty is, that your subconscious is able of “conceptual transfer” where it picks random items out of your collection, combines them, and transforms them into new ideas and “sparks” for your creativity.

You can even get “power-ups” for your mind – if you collaborate with others and brainstorm together. That allows you to tap into their “collections”, expand your thinking, and take your imagination beyond what you thought possible.

You cannot force creativity

But you can spark it!

You see, your creativity is reactive. It’s a bit like a person that always needs to have the last word. Your creativity responds to your environment and its stimulating impulses.

When you are in a creative mode, then your subconscious makes random suggestions, plays around with ideas, and suddenly sees patterns or an opportunity emerge.

When your subconscious mind has connected the dots, the conscious mind takes over and transforms those random ideas and sparks into frameworks, concepts, post titles, and writing topics...

Creativity is the key that unlocks your subconscious storage of information and connects them randomly.

And as I said in the beginning – you need to feed your brain to enable it to be creative.

There are a few things that you can do to “feed” your subconscious mind:

  • Read, watch, and listen – every piece of information that you consume and process gets stored
  • Have conversations with friends, colleagues, social media connections, and family, and dig deep into each topic
  • Break out of your usual habits and do something different. Thinking differently starts with doing different things. It allows you to stop the autopilot and perform an activity without paying attention and it stops you from doing the same thing over and over again. That means changing the routine of actions that you take (like always driving the same way to work or brushing your teeth with your right hand) and changing your habits of thinking (we all have our preferred ways of thinking that we need to change up a bit)
  • Challenge yourself. When you thinking through a topic, ask yourself different and more challenging questions. That takes you past the limitations of your usual thinking. You could take on different perspectives and see the same topic through someone else’s eyes…

Do you notice a common thread for all these activities?

None of these activities is deadly serious. They all have an element of playfulness.

Reintroducing playfulness to trigger creativity

In one of my earlier articles, I wrote about the alarming statistics of how quickly and how dramatically we lose our ability to be creative.

From over 95% of creative geniuses at the age of 2, we end up with a meager 3% in our thirties.

In fact, many people I speak with, tell me that they are not creative.

What they mean to say is that they have systematically buried their creative abilities and do not know how to bring them back.

Creativity doesn’t mean that you need to be a musician or a painter. You can be creative as a mathematician, a leader, an operations manager, a coach, a teacher…

Creativity makes your life and your experiences richer. It has a ripple effect. It’s not just contagious because playfulness is contagious – but creativity breeds more creativity. Like any other muscle that you exercise.

When you want to do creative work, then you need to allow yourself to let go and just follow your mind. Ignore where you are, whom you’re with, what the norms are, what materials you’re working with. Allow “things to come up” without pre-judgement.

Everything goes…

Children are more creative because they allow themselves to be led by the power of their imagination. A broomstick transforms into a horse, a bed sheet into a Roman toga…

And once they get going, they fully commit to their imagination. They play circus, cowboy, princess, or even dinosaur. They don’t judge themselves or those they are playing with.

They are accepting their playmate’s ideas as input that cues their next actions. They are playing with total abandon and “becoming” the person they want to be at that moment. They allow themselves to follow their imagination and come up with sometimes hare-brained ideas that might go spectacularly wrong.

So, when you’re trying to be creative, let go of your limitations, expectations, and restrictions. Just be and your mind will follow.

Creativity leads to clarity

Letting yourself go or setting your mind free might take you to a random or chaotic place for a while. But when you get comfortable with letting your mind flow, then it creates patterns and connects dots.

There’s an approach that I love to take for solving complex problems. CPS or Creative Problem Solving.

CPS is “a way of using your creativity to develop new ideas and solutions to problems. The process is based on separating divergent and convergent thinking styles so that you can focus your mind on creating at the first stage, and then evaluating at the second stage.”

When using CPS, you go through different stages during which you use different creative techniques to explore and hone in on your problem’s solution. (See image)

You might be able to see how creativity distills your thoughts into clarity. You are working with what you have at that moment – materials, people, locations - and coming up with something new that leads to clarity.

The combination of divergent and convergent thinking is the most powerful tool. And apart from providing you with clarity and solutions, it’s also an awful lot of fun to go through the process.

In the image, you can see the names of different creative techniques. There are many more that you can explore in different scenarios. Whether you are working alone, with one or two other people, or with a group of people. The options are almost endless.

Creating the intentional spark

I hope that reading this has given you a few ideas about how to spark or re-discover your creativity. The most important thing is to allow yourself to follow where your mind takes you.

But it also helps to find a few creative techniques that work well for you. Mind mapping is always my first choice but I have a whole book of techniques that I can use so that it never gets boring.

Give yourself permission to be creative!

And when it comes to finding content topics, then your content pillars are a brilliant starting point. (I have a free workshop coming up that goes into content pillars in a lot of detail.

I’d love for you to be there!

For all those who missed the session – I will create a free resources page on my website to which I will upload the recording but everyone who registers will get a replay link and a workbook too.

Categories: : Clarity, Content tips, Contentwriting, Creative Flow, Creativity

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