When brainstorming and planning, I find inspiration in a variety of ways. Whether tools, environment, or just being around other creative and inspirational people, I take a few actions to keep me on track.
When I’m really stumped on inspiration, a good movie usually helps. I can always find some lesson out of the movie, but even more important is the ability to get lost in the story. When the story setting is vastly different than my daily reality, it always is a great break that leaves me refreshed. Common movies for me to reach for are Lord of the Rings and Narnia, though last night I learned a few new things by watching A Christmas Story again.
I also mix it up with fiction books and computer gaming. Getting immersed in some other world can often shed light on this.
Whether it’s making time for a daily walk or occasionally the more challenging hike, I find getting out and moving helps clear the brain. During colder months, swimming laps or fitness videos will get the job done but I far prefer the view of the mountains in autumn.
I tend to think in the big picture and in the little details. To help me organize my thoughts, I use MindJet‘s MindManager. In grade school we were taught bubble brainstorming, which in essence is a form of mindmapping. Basically you put a central idea as the topic in the middle of the map. All other sub-topics are arms off of that, going as deep as you’d like. By doing this electronically, I can attach files, links, and notes to the map.
I’m also a huge fan of the MindManager iPhone app for those moments on the go when creativity strikes.
Once I’ve got my main ideas in place, taking the content into an outline can be helpful. I can sketch out my ideas in a mindmap, then turn that into an official client proposal in tools like OmniOutliner. While I could manually type the whole thing into Pages or Word, I prefer to unitask when in high creativity moments and that is what an outlining program allows.
When it comes to organizing any large system of writing, nothing beats Scrivener. I’ve used Scrivener to organize my mindmap topics down into daily email sequences. I have also started some pieces that are far more book-like. The beauty of Scrivener is that I can create stacks of notecards and shuffle them around as needed.
Of course, if I’m just doing a basic letter or some moderate desktop publishing, Pages is my software of choice. I can make the full-screen writing mode hide all by the text on the background and rotate page layout and design settings with ease.
What are your favorite things to do and tools to use to get your creativity flowing? Share your feedback in the comments below
- From brainstorm to outline: Why I use OPML (macworld.com)
- Warm Up Activities for Brainstorming (freetech4teachers.com)
- A Simple, Sure-fire Way to Create Great Content – The 5 W’s & the H (wpmu.org)