Many of us, including myself, took a hard look at our blogging over the past year and found that we were moving away from inventive writing and into more and more brand-related posts. In doing so, I think we lost some of our creativity.
I also think a creativity killer can be the pervasive meme. People feel the need to post and so they join up with Muffin Tin Monday, and Wordless Wednesday, and so on. It’s a nice way to drive up your traffic but I have to question if it’s truly growing your blog in a meaningful way.
When I often participate in Mack Collier’s #blogchat, I find that people are often asking and answering questions about inspiration and capturing ideas.
I once wrote that I could write a post about the paint on the walls. It’s not the most interesting topic but I can generally find a story in anything.
Here are some of my top tips for finding inspiration and capturing your ideas.
1. When something happens to make your brain think, it’s a potential moment of inspiration.
Examples: a song from your high school days comes on the radio, a bird gets in your garage, you burn the meatloaf for dinner
Where’s the inspiration?
A song from your high school days comes on the radio…
and that song, “Invisible Sun” from The Police immediately takes you back to 9th grade when you were the tagalong sister riding in Jeff Barnes’ green Toyota truck. And now you want to write about the innocence of high school crushes.
A bird gets in your garage…
and after getting over being angry at your husband leaving the garage door open, you wonder how the bird is going to get out. Its instinct is to fly up, not down, to get out. And suddenly you want to write about how you’ve been trying to solve a major problem in your life in one way and now you’re going to try to look at it another way.
You burn the meatloaf for dinner…
and you start wondering how you got to be so lousy in the kitchen and why your husband married you when he grew up in an Italian family that equated food with love. And you feel like writing about how the requirements for domestic skills have changed over the course of your lifetime.
2. Photographs that speak to you are amazing pieces of inspiration.
Be careful. If it’s a licensed photo, you most likely won’t be able to use it on your blog. But maybe it’s your own photo. Those are easy to write about.
Here are some examples:
A photo, old or new, where you look beyond the subject and take note of the background. If it was Christmas, do you remember the toys you got that year? What was the story behind that tree in the picture?
An accidental photo. Before I started blogging, my son would grab the digital camera every chance he got and snap ridiculous pictures. I ended up publishing an entire album of his photos and it painted a really interesting look at life through a three year old’s eyes.
3. Stories of your life are the inspiration, not the post.
Sometimes, bloggers get caught up in the mundane details of their lives. Try to push the details aside and extract the meat of your story.
For example, I recently had a flight with really bad turbulence. I was petrified and the 70-something year old woman beside me could clearly tell. She distracted me with a story of an encased tarantula that her son-in-law gave her for Christmas one year.
The flight was scary but nothing remarkable. An old woman with a stuffed tarantula? That’s a better story.
As you get these bits and pieces of inspiration, capture the moment.
Let me repeat that.
CAPTURE THE MOMENT.
If you don’t capture the moment of inspiration pretty close to the time that you have it, you will forget. Trust me on this. Carry your phone with you at all times. Capture the moment with a photograph. Take notes on Evernote. Or my personal favorite (especially while I’m driving), record a voice memo.
Finally, write your inspired piece as soon as you can after inspiration. Generally, once a few days go by, your inspiring moment won’t feel as inspiring because you’ve lost the moment.
I hope you’re feeling a little more inspired now. So go capture it!