This post is a reflection of my state of mind. As I am writing this, my mind has just suffered through a writer’s block, a lockdown of countless hours where no idea could make the cut, and there is nothing constructive to write or speak about. These are just some of those times when I have no topics, titles or ideas to look up. And then it clicked.
I think freelancers like you and me surely will go through a phase like this, one that is not constructive or productive, a thorn in a freelancer’s career that reminds us that sometimes our human side takes over and we fail to even kickstart our writing or design.
To dig myself out of that hole, here are a few things I did, over a period of time, to replenish my idea vault – the 20 things I do when my freelancing ideas all dry up.
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1. Just sit back and relax
Don’t do anything except sit back and relax. That was the first thing I did. It’s not like there is any loss anyways. It made me relaxed and helped me to clear out the half-thoughts that didn’t make the cut yet danced around in my head not wanting to clear out.
By forcing my mind to go blank from sitting back and relaxing, it laid the platform to develop new ideas.
2. Catch a new client
Dealing with your regular clients make you fall back on the regular way things are done. Talking to new clients open up possibilities and give you fresh ideas or new approaches to the same old problems. You will be coerced to find something different.
It helps to create a foray, an entirely new thought process to work upon, and, it also makes you more creative.
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3. Start commenting on blogs
Idea exchanges can happen in blogs particularly the kind that gets a lot of commentators. And it does wonders for you. You will not realize its importance until you start doing it. Your brain cells become more active, and you react instinctively, which eventually leads to better ideas.
4. Go through forums
Similar to #3, forums give you more topics to talk about of course online communities can be a great source of fresh ideas. The back and forth you get from these places allow you to pick up on new trends and happenings, leading to the discovery of an interesting and new take on things.
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5. Follow current news
Not one for socializing online? Then, just catch the news. It doesn’t matter what means you prefer to get the current news happening in your area. Offline and even online news magazines should be your partner in drier times. Done with local news? Go international.
6. Try giving a monologue
Talking to yourself alone is a recipe for bright ideas. I had done it several times, especially, when I am in the middle of a work crisis. Monologues motivate you because you not only think about the ideas, as you listen to them being said out loud, it gets processed via another channel.
Just don’t do it too often, otherwise, others might think that you have gone crazy.
7. Argue with someone opinionated
Social interactions can go a long way in triggering emotions or a new way of looking at things, particularly coming from someone else who has no filter to their own thoughts. It’s a good thing that everyone has different views over the same matter. You can adopt those views in your writing or your sketches.
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8. Watch a reality show
Reality shows are not just fun, but you learn a lot. These shows have the potential to steal your attention, and you don’t forget them for long, even after the show ends. It allows you to gain insight into how a person from another background or from another place thinks.
You may even come across new revelations that can be useful for you to frame your ideas around.
9. Try to fix something broken
Detach yourself from your desk and go fix something broken. If everything is fine and dandy at home, try to clean the dishes or mow the lawn. These hands-on activities awaken other areas in your mind, allowing you to reflect further on your problem and figure out great solutions to it.
10. Make something from scratch
Like writing? Don’t write what the client wants, write what you want to write: release your poetic side, write a story for your children, write an opinion post about a current issue and post it on your blog. Like sketching? Make a trip to your special place and sketch whatever it is that you see.
Make your hands dirty with arts and crafts, or a new dish or a DIY accessory. Indulge in making yourself happy and the ideas will come afterward.
11. Make new friends
Met somebody new in the business? Have a drink or a meal with them. New interactions make your brain healthy and push you to try to impress them. And this works in the opposite direction too. It not only makes you excited, but you are also ready to learn more too.
12. Do you play any sport?
Being outdoors, playing a group sport with friends can get the blood pumping and help you feel a sense of belonging. Nothing motivates the brain better than a good run or even better, winning a game!
13. Sit at a curb for a tea break
Find a nice cafe or restaurant that is by the side of the road and watch the cars and pedestrians go by as you sip a cup of coffee (or tea). Believe me; it makes you feel better, especially if you happen to find a street that isn’t too busy or crowded.
14. Visit new places
Better yet, leave your state or your country and take a trip to an island nearby, or take a trip back to your hometown. Meet new people or reconnect with old friends and you may be able to seek out inspiration from places you never thought would help you get new ideas.
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15. Buy something for yourself
Shopping can bring enthusiasm and vitality back to your life. The feeling of owning new clothes or new gadgets has a profound effect on how you think. However, it’s essential to buy what you want to, so that the feeling of being rewarded is there and can further motivate you.
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16. Take a ride
Leave your car, and catch a bus, or better yet take a round trip on a train. Watch other travelers while you travel. Observe them, watch the scenery, pretend you’re on a soul searching journey (which is partially true) and take a notepad with you to jot down whatever ideas that pop up in your head.
17. Revisit nature
Parks are not just the places to have an evening stroll. It also keeps you engaged with natural beauty. Go fish, jog around in the park or take somebody to go camping with you. Removing yourself from the hustle and bustle of the city life can give your senses a rest from being bombarded with white noise all the time.
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18. Visit a charity organization
That was perhaps, the best thing I did. Apart from having a new appreciation for your own life, you also take a look in the lives of others and sometimes be inspired by their resilience and toughness in facing life’s challenges.
19. Do yoga
If you have not done yoga yet, you should start doing now. Yoga heals the mind, keeps you young, and helps you destress easily. An alternative is a meditation. Do find a nice spot that will allow you to do yoga or meditate in your privacy.
20. Write a post!
Yes, write a post like this about your predicament and helpful readers will be sending in their two cents on how you can find new ideas.
Here’s one last thing: if after doing all the above, you still did not get any ideas, leave freelancing, and find a day job.