3 Exercises to generate new ideas for lessons and social media

I was watching a video the other day and the person being interviewed said something that I barely registered at the time but has been resurfacing in my mind for the past week: 

Writer's block doesn't exist.
There are moments when your ideas will seemingly run short but writing is a process, it's not about having a grand original idea, it's about sitting down and actually writing!

Now, I'm not a writer so I'm not sure how I feel about this statement, but the process part is what really got me thinking. I can think of at least a dozen moments each week when I find myself putting off a creative activity because I don't feel particularly inspired or I think the concept has been done 100 times before. 

Then the deadline starts looming in and - somehow - that same tired concept turns into a rather decent finished product. And the more I do it, the easier it gets, so here are 3 tips to get you started.

1 |  List 10 ideas every day

This tip isn't mine, it's actually a very popular piece of advice by James Altuchers, but it's popular for a reason: it actually works.
There is something about the process of forcing yourself to come up with 10 different solutions to the same problem, 10 answers to the same question...

For me, The first three options always come easily, they're sound and logical. Then I find myself listing the bad ones, which is incidentally the best way to get them out of my head and make room for better ideas. Towards the end of the list I finally come up with something more unexpected and surprising.

Repeating this process every day can really help build that creative problem-solving muscle. It's not something I do every single day, but if I'm going though a dry spell or going back to work after the holidays, I will often pick it up and repeat this exercise for a couple of weeks until I feel ideas flowing more easily.

2 |  Break down student questions

Have you ever played that game where you're not supposed to say the words "yes" or "no"?

As a kid I used to spend hours playing with my brother - we were really competitive - and the best way to win for me was always by answering a question with another question. Turns out this is a pretty effective technique to generate new ideas.

Why is this question important/relevant? What will the student be able to do with my answer? Are there any alternative ways to reach the same result? It's like falling through a rabbit-hole of questions until you hit one that can really benefit your audience.

3 |  Same topic, different point of view

I don't know you, but the best ideas I've had were often inspired by something completely unrelated to education. Maybe it's an article on the news or a conversation with a friend, either way, whenever you find something that resonates with you, try asking yourself "what would this look like in my field?", "how could my students benefit from this advice based on their current situation/problems?"

Bonus tip

if you're a Language Teacher, try considering what a particular topic, idea or exercise would look like for a different language level. Creating lessons plans in batches can really speed up the process and help you create interesting variations of the same idea for your students to explore.

How do you find your inspiration?
Share your personal advice in the comments below.