Why Your River Of Creativity Is Running Over But You’re Still Dying Of Thirst

One of the most common complaints I hear from readers is that they struggle to come up with creative ideas. Not just great quality ideas that they feel excited and inspired about, but any ideas at all.

Maybe it’s something you’ve had issues with yourself?

Without any ideas to begin with, how can you create anything?

You have no raw materials, no starting point, nothing to shape or sculpt or develop.

So it feels that your creativity is dry, parched, and you’re dying of thirst.

The irony is, your creativity is a raging river. It’s just you can’t quite see it yet, or you’ve forgotten.

Raging River
image: Sleepless In Somerset

It’s like living right next to a real raging river in a cute little shack, but always exiting the opposite side to the water, and never turning around. All you see is the forest ahead of you, not the river behind, so it seems like there’s not a drop of water in sight.

So how can you help yourself realise that gushing river of creativity is there?

With ideas, there’s one subtle, yet crucial, mistake that so many of us make.

When we say “I never have any creative ideas” what we actually mean isn’t that at all. What we actually mean is “I never capture any creative ideas.”

I’m sure you can remember times like this:

You were driving home, or in the shower or washing up, just tumbling a few random thoughts around in your mind about your day, your finances, that argument with a friend, your father’s upcoming birthday, and a hundred other things, and suddenly a flash of an idea appeared.

At this point you were excited at something you’d never thought of before. “This has great potential,” you thought, “I’ll make sure I remember it and return to it when I have a little more time.”

This sounds a perfectly natural and sensible plan. Except your memory isn’t that good. No offence, but it isn’t. I know mine definitely isn’t!

So later comes and goes and then one day maybe a week into the future, you remember vaguely having this great idea. But you have no clue what it was about!

And so, your shiny new idea that promised so much, disappears into the ether, lost forever.

So this happens time and time and again, and before too long you develop this picture of yourself as someone who never has any creative ideas. Because you’ve got nothing to show you otherwise, no proof or evidence.

How To Dive Headlong Into Your Mighty River Of Ideas

There is of course an alternative. But it involves some pretty sophisticated cutting edge equipment, and a huge amount of talent and application to be able to make use of it. Do you think you’re up to it?

For the equipment, you’re going to need a notebook, a pen, and, um, oh that’s it.

Here’s the technique. Study this very carefully.

When you have an idea, that very first moment it pops into your mind, write it down.

It really is that simple.

There are so many bonus offshoot benefits when you use this simple method to capture your creative ideas.

The most obvious is that you have the ideas captured! Plus you have evidence that you do indeed have great ideas, they’re all there collected in your ideas book. So your image of yourself shifts from being someone who never has any creative ideas to being someone who has lots of them.

Another benefit is that ideas, once collected like this, have a habit of breeding and evolving, even without you noticing. Once you’ve written something down, when you return to it a day, a month, or a year later, you’ll read it back, and other ideas will come to you that are connected with it, or that are different variations of it. (Write them down too, even if you don’t use them right away.)

Also, by capturing your ideas, you subliminally send out a message to all the other vagabond ideas wandering around in your head waiting for a good home.

Then you’ll start to discover that the more ideas you have, the more ideas you have.

I’m not exactly sure how this part works, but I once heard of a guy called Frank who had an interesting theory on ideas.

I could write thousands of words on why you should use a notebook to capture your ideas, but I’d rather you spent the time just trying it out and seeing for yourself how effective it is. There really is no better substitute.

Your creative thirst will be over as soon as you get that ideas book going. You’ll suddenly hear that mighty river by the side of your shack, run and jump into, and wonder how on earth you felt so thirsty for so long.

Go, get your ideas book started today!

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12 thoughts on “Why Your River Of Creativity Is Running Over But You’re Still Dying Of Thirst”

  1. I absolutely agree. I use my Idea Book regularly, and I love reading back over it! If nothing else, it fills me with the confidence that I *do* have ideas and I know exactly where to find them.

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    1. There are SO many good reasons to use an Idea Book or Journal. That’s a great example. In the same way that confident people have an attractive, magnetic quality, your confidence that you’re someone who has lots of creative ideas somehow seems to radiate out and attract even more ideas to you more easily. It just expands from there… : )

      Thanks for your comment Jessica.

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  2. I have often wondered how many people who say they never had ideas really have ideas and don’t notice that they do.

    I carry a leather journal with me to capture ideas as they arise and I believe that just the act of knowing that an idea will be captured leads to more creative ideas because my “creative mind” has learned to trust that it’s ideas will receive some attention.

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    1. Exactly Leisa. Your creative mind gets known as a cool place for ideas to hang out, and word gets out, drawing in other ideas from different neighbourhoods. It really does work like this, but it’s hard to believe about this kind of secret attraction, unless you just try it and see it in action!

      Thanks for your comment.

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  3. I totally agree. Write it down. I use post-its if I’m at home (note book on the road) and catalog them on a giant bulletin board. I need that kind of visual overview of my ideas – I can tweak, dispose of them or move them around as I please. They are always there, like a store house of material. I love this line “you subliminally send out a message to all the other vagabond ideas wandering around in your head waiting for a good home.” Awesome.

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    1. Love the post it notes idea Katie. That works in two ways – first you have the store house of material, like you said, plus you can just look at the collection of ideas there knowing that they all came from you, so it builds confidence that you’re someone who easily comes up with lots of creative ideas. Brilliant.

      I expanded the vagabond ideas theory a little more elaborately here: 🙂

      How to Encourage Your Creative Ideas to Come Out and Party All Night!

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  4. Great post-as usual! Unfortunately I seem to get most of my ideas just as I’m drifting off to sleep-I now make myself wake up and jot them down as quick reminders in my phone. The next day I can expand on them while making notes in one of my many notebooks/journals!

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    1. Brilliant idea Jen, I note ideas down on my phone all the time and save as draft text messages, then transfer to a ongoing file on my laptop. It also has a voice recorder so I speak/sing ideas or bits of songs in that too. Plus I use it to take pictures and movies. It’s become an indispensable creative tool. Oh, you can call people on it too… 🙂

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  5. I like to use post it notes to capture my ideas and review them regularly. Sometimes I discard the ones that I feel can’t be developed, then afterwards wish I’d kept them. Keeping all my inspirational thoughts/ideas together in a notebook will build my confidence and satisfy my need to be organised whilst being creative. I’m sure my ideas will blossom using this new creative tool and it will be fun to look back at what I’ve achieved.

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    1. I think all ideas have their day, things you write down today might not make sense to develop until months or years from now. I’d say write down all you can. You don’t have to go back to them, but if you do feel short of inspiration in the future, you’ll have plenty of material to return to and use. When you do, because you will have evolved yourself, they’ll mean different things to you now anyway, so you’ll potentially be inspired in ways you wouldn’t and couldn’t have been when you first captured the idea.

      And yes it also in a way keeps a kind of history of your ideas, which is always interesting to review in months and years to come. 🙂

      Thanks for your comments Eve.

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