When it comes to creating your content strategy, one of the first things you need to know is what topics you’re going to create content around. But sometimes the dreaded writers block, or even worse, a complete and total idea block and raise its head and derail your plans from the start.
When that happens, it’s good to have some tried and tested ways to brainstorm new ideas in your back pocket. These have worked for me time and again, and they might just work for you too.
Here are my 7 favourite ways to brainstorm new ideas for your content strategy:
Brainstorming Idea #1 – Try freewriting
I love freewriting. I do it every morning before anything else.
There are a couple of different ways you can do this.
1. Set a timer for a specific amount of time, and just start writing.
2. Set a goal to write a specific number of pages.
I tend to use the second method, following what Julia Cameron calls stream-of-concsiousness writing or “morning pages”. Three pages of longhand on whatever comes to mind.
And that’s the key to freewriting. It doesn’t matter what you write about as long as you put words on the page. Even if you have to start with “I don’t know what to write about,” by the time your timer goes off or you’ve filled your allotted pages, you might surprise yourself with what’s on the page.
Brainstorming Idea #2 – Keep an idea journal
Having a list of ideas available is another way to brainstorm new ideas for content to create. If you keep all of your ideas in an idea journal, on those days when you don’t know what to write, you’ve at least got a starting point.
Keep lists for things like topics to write or make videos about, people you might want to interview, ideas for emails and blog post series. Whatever you come up with write it down because you never know when that will spark your next great idea.
Brainstorming Idea #3 – Change the scenery
Staring at a computer screen when you don’t know what to write never really helps anyone.
When that happens to me, I’ve found the best thing to do is get up and do something else. Even cleaning your house can get your thoughts moving again. My favourite thing to do when I’m feeling blocked is to get outside and go for a walk. I can get down to the river and back in about 20 minutes, and that’s often enough to give my eyes something else to look at and my mind time to wander.
Brainstorming Idea #4 – Work in a different medium
I think for a lot of people writing is the medium of choice. But you don’t have to limit yourself to only doing that. I know many writers who also record videos, do podcasts, and even dabble in creating art.
When you’re feeling stuck in one place, try switching to another format and see if that doesn’t shake some ideas loose for you.
My favourite way to do this is to make patterns. When I can’t figure out what to write or what the next step in a project is, I can often be found using Repper.app* to make patterns and digital papers. Usually after about 30 minutes of this, I’m ready to tackle whatever I was feeling blocked on again.
Brainstorming Idea #5 – Get a brainstorming buddy
Sometimes two brains really are better than one. And just as an accountability buddy can help you be more productive, a brainstorming buddy can help you see things in a new light and come up with new ideas.
Brainstorming Idea #6 – Start with DFY content
You knew I was going to fit DFY content in here somewhere, didn’t you?
But the truth is, that if you’re feeling blocked sometimes running through your stash of DFY content, or even going to look for new content can help you brainstorm new ideas. I find that when I look at lists of titles for articles something usually jumps out at me and gives me ideas of different content to create, or a different slant to take on an existing topic.
Brainstorming Idea #7 – Try using prompts
And last, but by no means least, is to try brainstorm new ideas by using prompts. People often use prompts to start a journaling session, so why not use them for creating content as well.
The rise of AI tools such as ChatGPT and Google Bard make it really easy to generate ideas and prompts. Once you have them, you can always sit down and create your content from the prompts they give you.
Or, if you’re still feeling blocked, you can have the tool write a first draft for you. Naturally, you should edit the output to fact check, and to give it some of your own personality but it’s a great way to get started if you really don’t know what to write about.
It’s inevitable that you’re going to experience a need for fresh content and ideas when creating your content strategy. Having a toolkit of brainstorming tools and techniques will help go a long way to getting your ideas flowing again when you feel stuck.
The tips in this article have helped me brainstorm new ideas over the years. I hope you find them helpful too.
What’s your favorite brainstorming tool? Let me know in the comments below…
This is part 2 in our series on creating a content strategy. Read the rest of the series here:
Part 2: Feeling Stuck? 7 Ways to Brainstorm New Ideas (You are here)