One of the things I love about Twitter is that I often learn interesting ideas from my tweeple. Recently, there were a number of disjointed tweets from various sources that had one thing in common: they were giving advice on ways to generate ideas, whether it was finding an interesting subject to help you overcome writer’s block, or coming up with some creative campaign ideas for PR or advertising. I love that these complete and total strangers somehow managed synchronicity and tweeted about basically the same subject, but from unique perspectives. Here are a few tips I learned to help me get my idea machine revved up:
1) Look at trending topics on Twitter. You can do this from your Twitter homepage, or for more trends, go to main Twitter search page. This can work for a wide range of ideas, from fiction to journalism, to advertising, PR and straight-up marketing. Maybe you are feeling your marketing program is stale. So what do you do? See what are the trending topics for marketing and look for some inspiration, but first, do a little homework to uncover if this trend delivers results. Just because it is a trend doesn’t make it a good idea.
2) Facebook. Granted, it’s mainly for your friends, but what are they obsessing about in their updates? I just went onto my Facebook page, and I am proud to say that I have a real cross-section of America on my friends list. A number of friends have done updates on overturning Proposition 8 in California, while an equal number have joined a Facebook fan page praising the right to bear arms, and a number of my friends just want to talk about the HBO hit, “True Blood.” What does that tell me? Well, I guess I have a wide-variety of friends, but there’s a lesson in segment marketing embedded in there also. In the meantime, I can feel my creative impulses running in numerous directions. I’m feeling a short story coming on about a gay vampire-loving sharp-shooter. Hmm. I might have to mull that one over.
3) Read blogs. Love flowers? Someone has a blog about it. Want to know about quantum physics? I don’t, but someone has a blog about it. If you can imagine it, they have a blog about it. It’s a virtual field of dreams. Read what these writers are passionate about and feel some of that passion spill over to you, whether it is interesting to you or not, inspiration is contagious and it will lead you in your own direction.
4) Reuter’s Oddly Enough. Okay this is more for the fiction writer, but maybe a copywriter might get a spark of an idea from reading about a four-year old boy who flushed his week-old cocker spaniel down the toilet because he wanted to give it a bath. I mean if that copywriter is writing about toilet bowl cleaners they might get inspired, right? PETA might not like it. But we’re talking inspiration here. And don’t flush puppies down the toilet!
5) Something old-fashioned: eavesdropping. Go to the mall and sit in a public area, or go to a coffee shop in a busy part of town, order a latte, and just listen. I hear couples having fights, friends bad-mouthing other friends, everyone complaining about their boss, and sometimes, you hear flashes of inspiration. “I took a trip to Mars the other day,” I heard a guy say to a friend of his in the Apple store. The next words were drowned out by a baby suddenly crying. I would really love to know where that conversation was headed. Instead, I’ll have to settle for writing about it. Or maybe I’ll be asked to work an ad campaign coming up that has a Science Fiction bent to it, or in the future, I’ll come up with a publicity idea for a client where we ask guests to take a trip to Mars. Or, I might just reread “The Martian Chronicles,” and find inspiration there. Inspiration begets inspiration. Isn’t that an inspiring thought?