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How to Generate Creative New Content Ideas at Any Time

ByDavid Mercer,
business.com writer
|
Sep 26, 2019
Photo credit: Paul Bradbury / Getty
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Creating good, creative content doesn't have to be difficult.

There's nothing worse than sitting down to write only to realize there's nothing to write about, especially when your company relies on great content for marketing and growth.

Writer's block is dangerous. Not only does it bring content production to a grinding halt, but it also affects morale. It's bad for business all round.

It's not like content marketing is an easy enterprise to begin with. Fail to create something really compelling and engaging and readers will simply move on, leaving you with nothing but wasted time and effort.

The best way to avoid the trap entirely is to maintain high levels of creativity. Your brain needs to be constantly working away at ideas and concepts that intrigue. Writing then becomes a much easier by-product of the creative process.

Creativity tends not to be something you can conjure up on demand. I know. But it may just be easier to kick-start than you think.

Understanding creativity

For me, creativity is the result of associations your brain makes between things. When we sit down and try to be "creative," we tend to quickly become frustrated and give up. It seems to be too hard. The problem, most likely, is that you aren't giving your brain the building blocks it needs to make associations that result in creative inspiration. The building block of creativity is association.

Association needs two or more "things" that our brains can work with to come up with a potentially new and unique link. Fortunately, it's easy to give your brain plenty to work with.

Generating creativity

The more "things" you collect, the more likely your brain is to relate them in a truly new and unique way.

From a content perspective, the "things" we are talking about are niche concepts, such as titles and headlines. We want to collect as many related (both closely and loosely) topics as we can and combine them in different ways to come up with interesting new angles and blog post titles.

The best way to do this is called the submerge technique (taken from how to make money blogging) that you can follow step by step. Here's a brief outline:

  1. Copy a list of subheadings from an article related to the niche topic you want to talk about.
  2. Search Google for related results based on each subheading.
  3. Merge the results collected from each Google search with each of your subheadings.

This process does two very important things:

  1. It generates a lot of "things" to work with.
  2. It keeps them loosely related to a specific niche.

Let's say you want to write a guest post related to an article you recently published. Perhaps you have 10 subheadings in that article. For each of those subheadings, you gather 20 related Google search results and merge each set of 20 results with each of the 10 subheadings to generate

10 subheadings x 20 results = 200 potentially new blog post ideas

Not every combination is going to work well. Some concepts will be too closely related, or possibly identical, so they are not great candidates for inspiring unusual associations. Many, however, will be loosely related. Your brain will have to jiggle and tweak the concepts to merge them into a workable new title.

The process of merging two concepts into a single workable title is what forces your brain to make interesting new associations, which is the creative process in action. Some of the concepts will not make sense at all – they are too disconnected. Be very careful not to simply discard two concepts as nonsensical. More often than not, the most interesting and creative ideas will come from associating two seemingly disconnected concepts.

This strategy doesn't only work for generating blog post ideas. You could easily apply it while searching for new ideas to update and improve older content.

Creativity and inspiration often go hand in hand. Get one right, and the other flows naturally. Submerging gives you a way to put plenty of "things" on the table to help your brain make creative associations.

Next-level creativity

There's no rule preventing you from merging more than two lists. Up to now, we've considered merging two lists to generate a bunch of ideas.

That puts a lot of "things" on the table and provides your brain with building blocks to work with. While associating two things can produce creative ideas, there are a lot more possibilities available when associating three (or more) things.

A few simple calculations can help demonstrate this. As before, assume we create a list of 10 subheadings and gather 20 related topics for each one. This time we also create a list of 10 subheadings related to a third concept.

We can directly merge these with each of the 200 possibilities we have to give

200 x 10 = 2,000 potentially new blog post ideas

That's a lot of potential.

We can take it even further and collect 20 related results for each of our "third concept" subheadings and merge those. Then merge them with the original list. This would mean we're merging a list of 200 with another list of 200

200 x 200 = 40,000 potentially new blog post ideas

Hopefully, you're getting the sense that the sheer number of potentially creative new ideas we can generate using the submerge technique is essentially limitless. This is a great thing, because it means that writer's block should hopefully be a thing of the past.

Remember, it's not necessary to comb through each possibility. The goal of this exercise is to provide your brain with the building blocks it needs to make at least one new, creative idea.

Out of the potentially thousands of new associations your brain will make while submerging, there will inevitably be a few that spark your imagination and help you find new angles that simply would not have occurred otherwise.

From a motivation and morale standpoint, it's also far better to use a strategy like this because it puts your brain to work. Makes you feel like you are working toward an objective. It doesn't rely on waiting around for a flash of inspiration that may or may not come. 

Coming up with a truly unique and compelling idea for new content will also help motivate and inspire you to create better content, because less energy is wasted in the often fruitless and draining phase of ideation. The time it takes to get pen onto paper is reduced and the effort required is diminished.

On-demand new ideas will make you excited about writing and leave you with plenty of enthusiasm for creating content.

David Mercer
David Mercer
See David Mercer's Profile
David is a tech entrepreneur and published author with books translated into over 13 languages worldwide and used as recommended reading at places like MIT. His blog, SME Pals, is a preferred free entrepreneurial resource for great universities like Duke, Emory, Boston, and Cornell and has been featured on major business sites like Entrepreneur and Business Insider.
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