“Where do you get ideas for your blog posts?”
A classmate asked me this question last month. I didn’t have an answer so I said something. I don’t remember my answer because it wasn’t a clear one. I remember I started to ramble, “Umm I keep writing ideas, I don’t know, maybe…”
I found the answer in a simple wordplay. You don’t find ideas, ideas find you.
That is and has always been the basis of ideation. Even if you do exercises like writing every idea down or deliberately writing six ideas every day, all you are doing is orienting yourself to be able to accept any idea that comes toward you and not the other way round.
I focused on my process. I realised there is a ritual involved. In fact, there are several. Most of these are quirky or weird though.
I listen to a lot of music. I have no taste either so I’m really up for everything. The thing about music is that there is a certain ambiguity in it. People take from music what they want to take away from it and everyone will have a slightly different interpretation of every song. That ambiguity and its awareness help me take any one sentence or piece of lyric that hits me in the core and form a post out of it.
I over-caffeinate myself. I don’t know if that is a real thing but I know for a fact that any beverage that puts caffeine in my system does help me orient myself better into thinking. It’s not a property of caffeine per se but it works similar to muscle memory. I’ve come up with so many ideas with that cup in my hands that I know I will find something from the plethora of random thoughts if I have a cup of joe or tea.
The Tennis Ball
If you’ve ever watched House M.D. then you’d remember House bouncing a rather big tennis ball off the wall or the table. He usually did this as he sat in his cabin trying to work on a case. In my understanding, he lets his muscles work on something mundane so that he can think in the background. I tried this and to my surprise, it works. It’s similar to the caffeine thing I mentioned above. When you’re busy bouncing a ball off the wall and you get engrossed in it to the point that you no longer have to focus on throwing the ball, you can instead think while your hands do the work on their own. I keep a tennis ball in my drawer now.
I am rather spontaneous now to the point that I’m over-impulsive for my own good. However, that usually gets me experiences and experiences get me ideas. If they don’t, then I can write on the experience itself but it gets the job done and lets me have a rather interesting life. I’m not a part of the #YOLO squad though. I’m not stupid. I just try to avoid saying No for anything.
I consume a lot of media besides music. I binge-watch TV shows. I watch movies like they were a pack of M&Ms. I binge-watch anime. I read books. I read the manga. I play games. I listen to podcasts. No, I don’t do all that in one day but they form most of what I consume. I consume everything. While I am an ardent follower of “consume less, create more”, I also know for a fact that you cannot create until you consume. Everything I put into my head will give rise to a thought and thoughts mean potential ideas.
Walking and Watching
I talk a lot. I have a knack for conversations and I love talking to anyone. I also like listening so I listen a lot. It’s not rare when people tell me they don’t usually talk as much as they did with me and I take it as an honour now. If people find me worthy enough to share experiences, that might mean I do something right and somewhere in there, I find perspective. It’s not odd that most of my blog posts start with quotes from people I talked to. This one is no exception.
The White Screen
The biggest fear every writer ever had was the white screen of death. After you have a workable idea, like in the video games, you have to face your biggest foe and in our case, it’s our medium of expression. A white sheet if you’re a traditionalist and a white screen for us millennials. So, I start writing. I write a paragraph for the first idea I have. If I feel a flow of thoughts, I continue writing. Else, I shift to the next topic I had in my head. I repeat the thing until I’m no longer erasing paragraphs and words start coming out freely. That is when I know I have a post.
But… There’s A Catch
As I said, it isn’t one ritual. It’s all of them. A combination of random things that put ideas into my head. It’s a process and I know it works for me. Let’s take how this post came to be. (Warning: I’ll break the fourth wall now.)
My friend asked me the question a while ago. The thought was in my head. I thought of writing on it so I began, multiple times but the white screen defeated me and so, I kept it in the back drawer.
Until today as I was throwing a ball off the wall, I started to look at my desk and I heard Ruth B’s Lost Boy playing as a cup of coffee lay on the table. I started building an idea that is about “acting your age and growing up” since the song is about that for me. I immediately turned to my arch-enemy, the white screen. It defeated me yet again.
However, the idea of “How Do I Come Up With Blog Post Ideas?” was already being incubated as I walked, watched media, talked to some of the best creators I know all this time, I figured it was time. I gave it another go. Before I knew it I was halfway through and I knew clearly how I was going to end it.
I was going to end it precisely at this point with the following words,
“…and that is how I come up with blog post ideas.” I ended my awkward monologue.