It’s the question writers get asked the most. Well, here’s the answer…The Ideas Shop, of course.

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This is it, The Ideas Shop, where writers get their ideas from. Of course, it’s not called The Ideas Shop, that would be too obvious. If it was, everyone would know about it and then everyone would be having great ideas and putting them down on paper. And writers don’t want that. They want to be seen as special. They want people to believe their ideas are plucked out of the ether or sent to them in a vision from their muse.

Have you noticed how they never really know how to answer the simple question “Where do you get your ideas from?”. They bluster and mumble and then say something like “It just came to me”. Rubbish. They buy their ideas in a shop. …

Focus less on what you need to do and cherish more what you’ve done.

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Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
Zig Ziglar

One of the dangers of to-do lists is we think we’re being productive because we’re ticking things off a list. But how many of those things you’re ticking off are things you truly value? The benefit of a done list, is you only put things on it that are of value to you.

So how do you decide what is of value and is worthy of putting on your list? Well, for starters you don’t want to put everything on it, for example, “Called Debra in accounts” or “Had meeting with marketing”, otherwise it just becomes a completed to-do list. …

The most important thing to learn about the creative process is its fluidity.

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I saw this on Austin Kleon’s blog and I think it’s the best description of the creative process I have seen. It’s based on Mitchel Resnick’s ‘Creative Learning Spiral’, but what I love are all the additions that Austin has made. It’s a mess! And if you know where to start, your a better person that I. But What I love is it perfectly captures what the creative process is all about. It’s like a maze whose configuration is constantly changing. …

What can clickbait headlines teach us about writing better blog headlines?

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What makes a great headline? It’s very simple really. One that gets the reader to keep on reading. It doesn’t need to be deep and meaningful, it just needs to hook the reader. And then, of course, you need to deliver on your promise in the headline, otherwise, it’s just clickbait.

The purpose of clickbait headlines is to get us to click through to a page full of ads. Once they’ve got you there, they don’t care about whether they’re delivering on their promise. They’re like the bearded lady from the Victorian freak show. …

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There’s something special about not being bombarded while…

In today’s fast moving business world, how you use your brain is more important than ever. Here are ten tips from my book Brainhack that will help you make the most of your mind.

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Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash

To give you the competitive edge it’s important to engage your unconscious mind when coming up with new ideas. After all 95% of the brain’s activity is unconscious and it also processes data 500,000 times faster than the conscious mind. Now that’s big data and you want it as part of your cognitive arsenal.

1. Don’t try to have good ideas

Entrepreneur Seth Godin said a businessman asked him where he got all his good ideas from. The man explained that it took him a month or two to come up with just one and that Seth seemed to have more than that. Seth then asked the man how many bad ideas he had every month. …

Commit to this exercise for twenty minutes a day to feel fulfilled

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Before you read this article, I want you to take a moment and think about what your passion project is. If you didn’t have to work and didn’t have to worry about money, what would you want to do? Apart from the obvious traveling and spending time with family and friends; what is it that eats away at you. That unfulfilled desire.

It could be to write a book, paint, take photographs, cook, start a movement, learn a language.

If you’ve got yours, good. If you can’t think of anything, step away from the article now.

My next question is; if it’s so important to you, why aren’t you doing it? The most common answer people give is, ‘life gets in the way’. We’ve all got things that we can’t get out of: work, day-to-day household activities and family commitments. But there are also activities that we could all cut down on: time spent glued to a screen, for instance.

The trouble is, we tell ourselves we need a free afternoon or a free evening to start on our passion project. But let’s face it; it’s just not going to happen is it.

But I believe you don’t need huge swathes of time stretching in front of you, you just need to carve out twenty minutes every day. A lot of people would say they couldn’t spare an hour a day, but everyone can find twenty minutes in their day, just for themselves (Note to new parents: sorry but sleep doesn’t count as a passion project).

But there are a lot more reasons for choosing twenty minutes as a time slot than it just being an amount of time most people can spare. It’s the optimum amount of time for staying focused. It’s no coincidence that TED talks are eighteen minutes long. As Chris Anderson, founder of TED says, “It is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention.”

It’s also a short enough time length to defeat the gods of procrastination. Everyone suffers self-doubt when they sit down to be creative, even great artists. Creativity by its very nature is a step into the unknown. You don’t know what you are going to produce, you don’t know whether it’s going to be any good. This is the perfect fodder for the gods of procrastination.

So what do we do when we sit down to be creative. As soon as there’s a moment of self-doubt or we can’t think of anything, we find a distraction. That pencil won’t sharpen itself, those emails won’t read themselves, those tweets won’t like themselves.

The beauty of only committing yourself to twenty minutes of creative time is that the end is in sight. Set a timer on your phone for twenty minutes and promise yourself that when the alarm goes you can dive into the enticing waves of the internet and surf away to your heart’s desire. Creative work is hard; even after ten minutes, you may find you want to stop. But by telling yourself you’ve only got ten minutes to go, it won’t feel so hard. Just allocating twenty minutes and twenty minutes only, really is an incredible procrastination buster.

A pleasant side effect I’ve found is that if you engage your mind, you’ll find yourself really eager to carry on working after your twenty minutes is up. This is great if you’ve got the time, but make sure you keep your daily commitment to only twenty minutes. If you up your allocation to thirty minutes or more, procrastination will get the better of you again.

Something else that is really important is habit. You should try to do twenty minutes every day, even at weekends. If you can, keep a diary ticking off every day you’ve managed it. The more days you do in a row the less likely you are to break the chain. Also, if you can manage to do it at the same time every day, this will also help ingrain the habit of it and help you keep to it more easily.

78% of people believe that expressing personal creativity makes a real difference in their lives. Just to be working on something you love every day, even if it’s only for a short period of time, will make you feel happier and more fulfilled. …

“Creativity comes from conscious facts planted in the unconscious and allowed to germinate.”
Bertrand Russell

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The unconscious mind plays a very important role in coming up with ideas. But you need to create the right conditions for this to happen. There’s no guarantee ideas will pop up from your unconscious, but it’s like planting a seed; if you plant it in a sunny spot in good soil and give it plenty of water, you’ve given it the best chance to grow.

One of the most common misconceptions is that “creative” people have these “light bulb moments” that just pop into their heads as if from nowhere. But no one has great ideas without thinking about a problem for a long time. It only seems to come out of nowhere because it comes from your unconscious. …

I’m not saying this is the only way to get ideas, but it’s how I get mine.

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Photo by Gabriel Crismariu on Unsplash

Firstly, I will never sit down to write a story without already having an idea. I know some people just sit down and write and see where the characters will take them, but I prefer to know where I’m going. It’s like taking a train ride. I know the destination, but it doesn’t mean I know what’s going to happen on the journey itself.

So first things first, and the question most writers get asked, “where do you get your ideas from?” Well, from The Ideas Shop of course.

But if you’re not lucky enough to have an Ideas Shop near you, I would recommend a subtle blend of curiosity and instinct (and if anyone ever manages to bottle that, I’d certainly dab a couple of drops of it behind my ears!). …


Neil Pavitt

Author, speaker, coach and teacher. Passionate about creativity, innovation and good ideas. Fast Company contributor.

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