5 Simple Ideation Tools and Methods for the Creative Mind | iCreateDaily | Creators & Creativity

5 Simple Ideation Tools and Methods for the Creative Mind

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Methods for the Creative Mind

Ideation tools can be complex or uber simple. You can probably guess which approach we favor. Quick as a flash, ideas can come as a spark of inspiration, an awakening… a quickening, as awareness, or reflection… and they can disappear as quickly.

Ideas are ephemeral entities that live in the vaporous ether that permeates, envelopes and protects life on our planet. They come and go like clouds on a windy day. Here now, gone in a minute, before they’ve had time to precipitate their essence into your conscious mind.1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aether_(classical_element

Table of Contents

Audio Article – Ideation Tools

The ideation process helps you find, gather and grow your ideas. From our experience, the simpler the ideation process, the better for successful replication… from inception to idea to manifestation.

If you’re not yet in that place where ideas flow freely, we’ll cover that first.

The more you act on your ideas, the more ideas will flow to you.
~LeAura Alderson, author, entrepreneur, cofounder-iCreateDaily

Ideation tools can be complex or uber simple. You can probably guess which approach we favor. Ideas can come in a flash... a flash of inspiration, of awareness, of reflection... and they can disappear as quickly. Ideas are ephemeral entities that live in the vaporous ether that permeates, envelopes and protects life on our planet.

The Idea Garden

We live in the woods, love nature, and are into gardening. As a student of the seasons of life, it’s easy to see wonderful lessons on life through nature and garden metaphors.

When you’ve laid the foundation for your garden, you don’t keep digging up new ground each year and starting over. In fact, each year you get better at simplifying the process and building on the previous successes.

The more you grow the more you can grow. Same thing with the ideation process.

The ideation of a fertile mind is self generating through planting. Ideas that have energy, drive and daily momentum behind them, will grow.

The more seeds of ideas you plant and nurture in the garden, the more ideas you will have. Ideas are fed through daily doing. In turn, like the garden, the ideas feed you.

Ideas are like seeds. The more ideas you bring to life, the more ideas you have to bring to life.

“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”
~Henry David Thoreau, essayist, poet, philosopher, 1817-1862

Thoreau quote, ideation tools, spring seed quote

Are You an Ideator?

If you’re an ideator… the sort to have imagined “Six impossible things before breakfast“, like Alice in Wonderland, then we’ll get to the ideation tools in a minute, (or you can skip down to the Ideation Tools title below).

Remember, there are lots of elaborate and “corporate” techniques online you could choose. Our preference is simplicity, and ideation tools you can use anywhere, anytime.

If you’re here to learn more how to come up with ideas, including how to get unstuck from artist or writer’s block, then start here:

How to Ideate

One of our favorite way to generate ideas is through conceptual prompts that invoke intuitive creativity.

In fact we host intuitive art and writing challenges using conceptual prompts. You can sign up to be notified of these free challenges here:

30 Day Creator Challenges

Next, we share five favorite ways to generate ideas and stimulate creativity.

5 Ways to Generate Ideas

1. Read inspiring quotes and poems
2. View inspiring art, images, photos, (fantasy art is especially good for fiction writers)
3. Listen to inspiring music (epic movie soundtracks are amongst our favorites):

4. Watch great movies – some of our all time favorite movies include:

5. Read great books – Some of our family’s favorite fiction books that inspire include:

CAUTION: But don’t just consume inspirational content. Enjoy it then create… consume and then create. To over consume without turning that inspiration into your own creations, is like overeating without exercising; it’s not healthy for your creative body of work.

Ideation tools can be complex or uber simple. You can probably guess which approach we favor. Ideas can come in a flash... a flash of inspiration, of awareness, of reflection... and they can disappear as quickly. #lifegoals #Dreams #Motivation #BucketLists #Ideas #Quotes #Money #IWant #Happy #ThingsToDo #Inspiration #Thoughts #Travel #Adventure #Fun #Friends #Awesome #People #Families #Heavens #RoadTrips #Wanderlust #Mottos #icreatedaily

Here’s an example of using a quote to inspire conceptual ideation. 

“To explore meaningful quotes and concepts more deeply, is to pry open the portal to infinity.”
~LeAura Alderson, author, entrepreneur, cofounder-iCreateDaily

"To explore meaningful quotes and concepts more deeply, is to pry open the entrance to infinity." ~LeAura Alderson, author, entrepreneur, cofounder-iCreateDaily #lifegoals #Dreams #Motivation #BucketLists #Ideas #Quotes #Money #IWant #Happy #ThingsToDo #Inspiration #Thoughts #Travel #Adventure #Fun #Friends #Awesome #People #Families #Heavens #RoadTrips #Wanderlust #Mottos #icreatedaily

Conceptual Creating

So if this quote—in and of itself—does not immediately elicit ideas and inspiration, then you can ponder the meanings and concepts behind the words.

For instance, contemplate the part that says “…pry open the portal to infinity.”

If no ideas comes to mind upon reading and thinking on the quote, you can dive deeper:

  1. Define it – You could look up the definition and origins of these words:
  2. Find Meaning – Read the definitions of key words and see if any ideas develop from any of them
  3. Ponder it – Ponder the deeper and expanded meanings as it relates to you and your life as well.

For instance, you could ask yourself:

  • What is my next portal of opportunity?
  • What’s one thing I can do to pry open the portal to the realm of my dreams?
  • Relative to infinity, the struggles of the moment are tiny. If I live to be 110… I have ___ years ahead to see my dreams to fruition. Starting now, I will…
  • What within myself would I like to know more about… to explore more deeply?
  • If you’re a writer, you could ask, ‘what qualities or experiences would make this character I’m developing, deeper or more relatable?
  • If you’re a visual artist, you could ask, ‘what color would give this painting more depth?’
  • Where am I not prying into my own psyche, that I should explore more?
    • If that’s uncomfortable for you due to some past pain, create that area of yourself as a character in a story, or image in a painting, and delve into it with and for him/her.

Inspiration Springs Eternal…

Chances are, at some point in this process you will find yourself inspired with additional thoughts and ideas. Run with whatever springs forth with the most vigor… like seedlings in spring, focus on that which is thriving.

Write about it, create an imaginary story around it. Creating a piece of art around the concept, or consider where there might be portals of opportunity in your life, etc.

There’s so much more that could be said, but we don’t want to over “fertilize” your own ideation process with ours. Please let us know what kinds of things you’ve come up with from this example, or any other thoughts or experience you have of this. It will be fun to hear and we will definitely reply.

Ideation Tools

1. Conceptual Ideation Inspiration – T.I.P.

This begins the Ideation Tools by continuing from the ‘how to ideate’ segment. Thought generates ideas. Ideation expands those ideas. (This is a summary of the quote exercise in the ‘How to Ideate’ section above, and can be used with anything in all kinds of ways):

  1. Think – Reflect on the meaning of something such as a thought or inspiring quote.
  2. Ideate – ponder it and explore relationships and associated concepts
  3. Plant- “plant” what sprouts onto paper (or recorder) and then nurture it to life through daily writing.

T.I.P: Think… Ideate… Plant. It’s short, sweet, simple, and it works.

If you’re a visual person you may wish to create your idea artistically. Journals are great ideation tools, not only to keep track of your ideas, but to incubate and nurture them. It’s akin to planting the seed.

Planting your idea on paper is the first step to make it more real.

Artists gain visual ideas from stories and writers gain story ideas from visuals.
~LeAura Alderson, author, entrepreneur, cofounder-iCreateDaily

Artists gain visual ideas from stories and writers gain story ideas from visuals. ~LeAura Alderson, author, entrepreneur, cofounder-iCreateDaily #lifegoals #Dreams #Motivation #BucketLists #Ideas #Quotes #Money #IWant #Happy #ThingsToDo #Inspiration #Thoughts #Travel #Adventure #Fun #Friends #Awesome #People #Families #Heavens #RoadTrips #Wanderlust #Mottos #icreatedaily

2. Journals with Prompts as Conceptual Ideation Tools

Journals with prompts can be great for jumpstarting your own ideation process.

Ideas Journals with Prompts Help You:

  1. Immerse in your work
  2. Engage your mind in an entirely different area of creativity
  3. Shift your thinking and get “out of the box”
  4. Ideate
  5. Break free of creative blocks

Here’s an article that delves more into Ideas Journals.

When we’re stuck and uninspired, we need a shift. Tapping into other’s creative ideas may be just the catalyst you need to unlock your own treasure chest of creative ideas.

We’ve written about creative blocks and getting unstuck  here.

However, the more you “go pro” doing the work of your art.. the more ideas will naturally flow to you. Once you’re in the flow, you won’t likely need help generating ideas. Instead, you may need help in organizing and discerning which ideas to pursue.

For that, we created the iCreateDaily 90 Day Goals Journal. You can get a free 30-Day PDF of that Goals Journal here.

3. Blank Idea Journal

If you’re a prolific ideator with more ideas than time, then write them down. All of them. Each one that comes your way, even if they seem silly.

Creativity journals have prompts, which can be helpful. However, for storing and tracking ideas, something simpler, without prompts or distractions is best.

Keep an “Ideas Journal”, like this simply organized one or just a blank spiral or bound notebook. Write all of your ideas down in the same journal until it’s full, then start another one. Date them on the cover or spine so it’s easy to find at a glance, such as: “Jan-October 2018”.

If you’re an inventor—or aspiring to be—it can be critical to also add the date of your idea and the surrounding circumstances that precipitated it.

Here is some starter info on copyrighting and protecting your work, however this is by no means, legal advice. This is to get you started with basic ideas and content tracking system. You’ll still need to consult with appropriate legal channels when the time comes.

Inventor Ideas

If you’re a product developer or inventor, your ideas journal pages should include the story around the idea and include details such as:

  1. Date of your idea
  2. Place of your idea
  3. What was the catalyst for this idea
  4. Who was present
  5. The ‘what, when and where’ details of anyone you’ve told about your idea

There are definitely ways to protect product or invention ideas. However, it’s more complicated in these days of prolific content where ideas alone have diminished value as compared to existing products and prototypes. 2)https://www.forbes.com/sites/drewhendricks/2013/11/18/7-simple-ways-you-can-protect-your-idea-from-theft/#9ba7ea71f860

For Protecting Screenplays and Manuscripts

You cannot protect a screenplay or manuscript idea alone. You must have pages of content underway. Then, you can protect your screenplay by registering it. Here are a few of  the registration services that provide legal proof of when you authored your screenplay:3)https://www.scriptmag.com/features/career-features/how-to-protect-your-screenplays

Your work is automatically copyrighted the moment you’ve written it. However, if you need to battle it out in court, it’s easier if you’ve officially registered it with the U.S. Copyright Office.

A few other steps toward helping the wayward users be wary is to add that term to the front pages of your manuscript (just look inside book covers you own to see where that typically is placed). If you’re writing on a website or other online content, add the copyright to the footer of your site or page.

  • U.S. Copyright Office
  • Writer’s Guild of America
    • West (WGAw)
    • East (WGAe).

For more specific legal advice this article on Legal Zoom should help.

For Protecting Artwork

Always sign your art.

If you share a lot online, then watermark it as well to avoid people clipping screenshots that do not include your signature. The benefit to watermarks that include your website name or social page is that it also helps prospective commission clients and buyers find you.

Numerous are the times that we’ve loved some art seen on social media, but which had absolutely no signature or other designation. Rather, it was just something someone shared from someone who shared from someone, with no connection to the original source whatsoever. We wanted to use it with tribute but couldn’t find the original artist.4)https://www.artslaw.com.au/legal/raw-law/how-do-you-protect-your-work-on-the-internet

For more on legally protecting your work, you may enjoy this interview with trademark and copyright attorney, Angela Langlotz.5)https://icreatedailypodcast.com/episode-52-trademark-and-copyright-attorney-angela-langlotz/

Sign your artwork, not only to copyright protect it but also to help potential buyers find you.

The best ideation tool is a simple blank journal.

Your Ideas Journal

So to summarize the blank journal as an ideation tool, remember to:

  1. Format – simple or blank  pages
  2. Header –  write the idea title, date and context for how it came to you
  3. Description – write down any accompanying thoughts thus far

If this is an art journal, you can write this info in light pen on the back of the page. It is now anchored or “planted” in matter so you will not lose it, should you need to get back to your work.

Love is the capacity to take care, to protect, to nourish.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

4. Recorder Phone App

We use audio recorders often for recording ideas as they crop up.

One thing most of us have with us wherever we go, is our phone. I have an iPhone and the recorder app I use is iRecorder. But just search “recorder” from your apps store, and you should see a whole host of options.

I remember the days of carrying cassette recorders around for recording things that come up. Now, it’s super convenient and easy to have it all on your phone.

So keep an ‘Ideas Journal’ handy and record all of your ideas… even the ones that may seem silly.

The wisp of ideas can dissipate like mist in the sun… or like a dream upon awakening. Gently capture these ideas and record them before they slip between your fingers and escape the light of your probing thoughts.
~LeAura Alderson, author, entrepreneur, cofounder-iCreateDaily

5. Exercise for Generating Ideas

Yes!! Exercise is a fantastic ideation tool with fringe benefits!

My most prolific ideation time is while outside exercising in nature. For us it’s typically walking our dogs or biking the hills in our small subdivision.

Walking can stimulate creativity and ideation by as much as 60%! as indicated by this 2014 Stanford study.6)https://news.stanford.edu/2014/04/24/walking-vs-sitting-042414/

And this is where it comes in especially handy to have the iRecorder, as mentioned in #4.  I can’t tell you have many times I’ve been hit with an inspiring idea that is so vivid that I’m certain I will remember it once I’m done. But by the end of walking or biking or whatever, my brain has raced through so many other screens and moved on.

Ideas are like sparks on the wind. Elusive and ephemeral. Recording them is the first step toward manifesting them.
~LeAura Alderson, cofounder-iCreateDaily.com®

The Brain Changing Benefits of Exercise

You will likely also enjoy this TED talk on the Brain Changing Benefits of Exercise, in which neuroscientist and professor, Wendy Suzuki, observed her own creativity improving due to exercise.

“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.”
~Marcus Tullius Cicero, 65 BC

“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.” ~Marcus Tullius Cicero, 65 BC #lifegoals #Dreams #Motivation #BucketLists #Ideas #Quotes #Money #IWant #Happy #ThingsToDo #Inspiration #Thoughts #Travel #Adventure #Fun #Friends #Awesome #People #Families #Heavens #RoadTrips #Wanderlust #Mottos #icreatedaily

Ideate, Record and Return to Focus

The more you write down your ideas, the more ideas you will have. More than that, the more you act on your ideas, the more ideas will flow your way.

Then you must have the discipline to set it aside if it comes when you’re doing other work. It’s typically best to work on one idea at a time, and no more than five in the same time period.

You’ve created the outline for it so that you should be able to easily slip back into the idea when you’re free to. For now you may need to redirect your focus back to the task at hand.


Unless your mind is flooded with this new idea, such that the creative muse will not be silenced. Then go with it and continue expanding upon it now, if you can.

Just beware ‘shiny object syndrome’, as it can derail you from your dreams.

“Creating daily is to plant a seed that becomes an orchard for your future.”
~LeAura Alderson, iCreateDaily.com

Beware the Shiny Object Syndrome

The temptation for ideators and creative minds is to thrill at working on the next new idea. Beware shiny object syndrome as it can derail you from finishing the one at hand.

The muse’s evil twin sister is Delilah Distractor.

In order to advance your work and grow your business to sustain you and to have you feel complete and accomplished, you must also bring projects to completion. The tendrils of unfinished projects can entangle and congest the creative flow.

Consider arriving at the end of the day with numerous things started but nothing finished. Then, imagine the alternate scenario: arriving at the end of your day where you’ve applied focused effort and completed one significant creative work.

You know which scenario leaves you with the greatest feeling of accomplishment, right? If you’re creating a business around your art, you’ll need the structure and discipline to see each project through.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t also work on other things, as many creators are inspired and energized by new ideas and creations. But you’ll just need to balance this.

For example, if you’re a full time artist, then you would work on your commissions and best paying work by day, and work on new or other projects-in-process in the evenings and weekends.

To bring your brand to profitability you’ll need to complete and grow your body of work. The only way to do that is to stay focused on one to five primary goals at a time, one at a time.

The opposite of consumption is creation. To create daily is to create a healthy body of work in the world.

The more ideas you bring to life, the more your ideas will flourish. And like seeds to plants, and plants to harvest, each idea brought to fruition can give life to so many more.
~LeAura Alderson, author, entrepreneur, cofounder-iCreateDaily

If You Thrive on Multiple Projects…

The One Thing…

Okay, so here’s to expanding on the concept of focusing versus multitasking. This concept of working on more than one thing at once is actually often a good fit for many creators.

There’s no doubt that some of the most accomplished entrepreneurs are those who’ve focused on one thing to fruition before expanding into other work. We’ve written about that in this article and discussed in it in our podcast with Geoff Woods, VP of the One Thing concept.

And… as another favorite entrepreneur mentor, John Lee Dumas, of EOFire.com says:
F.O.C.U.S. = Follow One Course Until Success.

Or the Many…?

However, there’s another view that fits many creatives. One of our creative heroes, Chase Jarvis, says in his interview with Lewis Howes of the School of Greatness, that working on a handful of different things can be helpful. So prolific ideators will especially enjoy this.

Sometimes breaking from the project at hand to ideate on new ones is the perfect energizing ideation tool.

Creators are often stimulated and motivated by new projects and ideas, and a creative break to ideate on new projects or products, can be just the thing to infuse fresh enthusiasm and renew your resolve to complete the work at hand, so that you can move onto other things.

We’ve linked that segment of the interview here, We admire all of these guys and love learning from their success. As Devani and I have discussed in several podcast episodes as well as written about here, for us, our “one thing” is media publishing. Within that there are a number of channels of endeavor.

What’s important is to find the way that works best for you, based on which keeps you most positively productive.

You will enjoy likely enjoy that entire video interview with which we’ve provided here:

Chase Jarvis with Lewis Howes on Creativity and The Art of Entrepreneurship

You Do You

The bottom line? Always do whatever process works best for you.

Everybody is different and every expert and success story is speaking from his/her perspective. If you’re in the beginning of your creative journey, there is one thing that should serve you most as you discover the best ways for you to ideate, create and succeed:

The best way to accomplish your goals is to identify and track them by setting quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals, and then do the work.

The fastest way to anchor an idea is to write it down.
~LeAura Alderson, author, entrepreneur, cofounder-iCreateDaily


Anchor Your Ideas

Ideas can evaporate as fast as dreams upon awakening, like mist to sunlight… like wind to a delicate seed. So it’s important to take action to anchor ideas into your conscious mind through tangible anchors.

Shine the light of mind on that idea before it evaporates into the day. Take that idea and store that seed safely by first writing it down or recording it until it’s ready to be planted in the fertile soil of productive action.

Recording ideas somewhere—in some fashion—as soon as you have them is also an essential survival tool of  Busy Brain Syndrome. Get it out of your head and onto paper before you lose it. Once it’s securely recorded, you can let it incubate and simmer while you get back to the work at hand.

Access to the creative realm is only a thought away.
~LeAura Alderson, cofounder-iCreateDaily®

Manifesting Ideas

Journals are great ideation tools, and all creators should have one dedicated ‘Ideas Journals’ with you at all times. Fill it up, then start another, but put all of your ideas into the one journal and you will never again find yourself stuck in a creative block again.

When you’re ready to start your next project, because—you know—you’ve finished one of your current ones 😉, you can just go to your ideas journal and find the next most viable idea that you’d like to work on.

3 Steps to Bringing Your Ideas to Life:

  1. Identify the idea/s to focus on first
  2. Identify the steps to completion – plan your journey through monthly, weekly and daily goals
  3. Do that daily and you will arrive at your destination

A goals journal is a wonderful companion to a simple blank ideas journal. In order to bring ideas to life, we need to identify daily steps to achieve our goals.

The more you create in the world, the more ideas will trust you and seek you out.
~LeAura Alderson, cofounder-iCreateDaily.com®

For more wonderful ideation ideas, you may enjoy this video conversation with James Altucher and Tom Bilyeu on Impact Theory.

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