In my last blog post, I wrote about how to bring innovation to the creative process. But when you’re staring at a blank page (or canvas) innovation is the farthest thing from your mind. When I begin a writing project, I’m not thinking about innovation. Honestly, I’m just trying to get words on paper. It’s messy. Unruly. Sloppy. But it’s what I need to begin even thinking about innovation.
Innovation happens when there’s a problem that needs solving. No “shitty” draft to work with? No innovation. But once you have something to mold and transform, well, that’s when you start thinking out-of-the-box. If you’re wondering where to take your next project, here are a few exercises to help inspire those innovative next steps.
Use the “How Might We…” Template
One popular way companies promote collaborative ideation is by considering a question that begins “How might we…” This can easily be transferred to individual creatives by focusing instead on “How might I…” Ready to try it? Get a pen and paper. Set a timer and make yourself comfortable. The goal is to think of as many variations to this question prompt. I tried it and decided to focus on a new writing project composed of prose poems about love.
Lead with Emotions
Artists are often naturally in tune to emotions. After all, art is tied up with evoking emotions within an audience. If you’re stuck with a project, consider it from another point of view by asking questions that center around the emotions you hope to bring about.
Generate Wild Answers to Promote More Questions
Earlier, I suggested the “How Might We…” template as a good starting point for inspiring innovation. If you’ve completed the exercise then begin by first considering answers to these questions. I gave myself a limit of only one answer to each question. This meant that it had to be a bold idea. When I finished answering these questions, I let each answer prompt a new question.
An example of this from my own brainstorm was prompted first by the question, "How might I add a humorous tone to these prose poems about love?" My one answer was to explore the most unexpected places a person might fall in love. That could be humorous, right? Of course, this prompted the question, "What are the most unexpected places a person might fall in love?"
Reader, I think I'm getting somewhere.
Create & Ideate is a space for unruly ideas, plenty of creativity, and a few writing exercises sprinkled in along the way. As a writer, I’m always seeking ways to understand my art and be inspired. I hope you find a little inspiration here, too.