How to fix “I have no ideas” in 24 hours

How many times have you said any of these things?

Listen to the audio version

“I have no ideas”?
“My mind has gone blank”

My personal favourite is: “I just can’t think of anything to say”.

I call it Blank Page Syndrome (so do other people—I didn’t invent the term).

It really annoys me when people say “I have no ideas”. It shouldn’t annoy me I know, but it does. It annoys me even more when I say it to myself.

Why does it annoy me more than the last season of Game of Thrones?

The simplest reason is: you saying “I have no ideas” isn’t true.

It’s never true.

Why isn’t it true? Let me explain with a little barbecue paradox.

How can you have no ideas of what to say right now, but never shut up when talking to your buddies? When it's time for the icy beers and that amazing smelling barbecue later you've got opinions.

When you're trying to write on Twitter you've ran out ideas after writing 3 tweets. Yes, you ran out of ideas after writing 840 characters.

Why did you run out of ideas when writing tweets but never run out when you're talking to your friends?

Because there’s pressure to fill the silence. There’s a requirement to fill the silence.

Conversations have a simple structure. They say something, then you say something. It’s a bit strange if they say something and you don’t respond. You need things to say when your buddies are staring blankly back at you.

But you don’t have your buddies. You only have yourself. And it’s weird to talk to yourself.

Right now you can’t think of ideas because you don’t need them. You want them, sure. But you can’t will ideas into existence.

If you can’t think of ideas it’s because you have no reason to look for them.

So how do you need ideas? How do you develop the reason?

2 ways. Your life, and structure.

Let’s talk about life first.

I’ll try not to get too grandiose here but I’m going to anyway.

A life well-lived gives you endless opportunities for idea generation. Your daily conversations will give you an endless supply of ideas. Your experiences will give you an endless supply of ideas.

If I’m ever struggling for ideas I do 1 of 2 things: I go have a conversation with somebody or I start writing anything.

It kickstarts my brain into the need for ideas. The conversation forces me to need ideas as does my desire to write.

But sometimes a desire to write isn’t enough or a conversation isn’t available to me. So I use this next method instead.

This is the method I use in my life every single day. I’ve done it for over 13 years. [I even wrote a book about me discovering it].

This idea is simple. You could implement it in 24 hours.

The idea is daily projects. The idea of doing something every day for a set period of time.

I challenge you to find a greater way to force your brain to need ideas. If there’s a better way, I haven’t discovered it yet.

Here’s an example.

If I asked you to start writing more tweets you’d do OK for a few days. Then by the third or fourth day you’ll be groaning “I don’t have any ideas”.

But if I framed this request differently, you’d never run out of ideas.

If I told you to write 12 tweets per day for the next 30 days, you’d need ideas and you’d damn well find them.

The difference here is between desire and require.

Desire:

One method presumes that your desire for ideas is enough. Spoiler: it very rarely is.

Require:

The other method requires you to come up with ideas because you need ideas every single day.

Through the art of practicing every day you will discover the art of needing ideas every day. This will force you to need ideas every single day.

This is why I chant so much about the daily project thing.

It’s your secret weapon to a problem you didn’t even know you had.

The process in your brain is:

  1. You need to create 365 ideas.
  2. You need ideas.
  3. You come up with them.

If you don’t need ideas you don’t find them.

So stop saying “I have no ideas” and start finding a way to need ideas.

They’ll arrive.