Don’t know how to find new ideas? Your mind blank?Old Typewriter "Once Upon A Time" - how to find new ideas

We say we’re afraid of the blank page, but in fact the empty page is exactly what you need. As long as you start to fill it.

This applies whether you’re a writer, an artist, in business, in a relationship… in any situation where you want ideas.

The problem with not having ideas is that we try too hard to compensate. We are trained from schooldays onwards to try to think our way out of problems.

But in most situations, if you could have thought of a solution, you would have. So trying to think harder is only wasting time.

That’s where the blank page is so useful. It helps you clear your mind.

The blank paper exercise

The first step is to clear yourself some space, go somewhere where you’re not going to be interrupted – whether that means closing the door or sitting in your local cafe.

Then give yourself time. At least 10 minutes. During that time, write down whatever you want – without planning, judging or correcting.

You can write down the nature of the problem.

Or you can just brainstorm possible solutions.

You can make a diagram if that’s the way your mind works.

You can invent a dream.

Or you can simply write down a stream of consciousness as the sentences come to you.

Find new ideas

The trick is to keep the pen, pencil or cursor moving. Put down whatever comes into your mind, however wrong it may feel. If you can’t think of anything, then simply write “I can’t think of anything” as many times as you like, until new thoughts come.

And I guarantee they will.

Some will be good, many will be useless and some will be ideas you could never have got any other way.

Have a go – and tell me how it turns out.


More articles on starting off

More on free-writing in Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down The Bones