Okay, you need three to five new ideas for articles, all on the same general topic. Go…

Now here’s where we separate the people who have to come up with regular content all the time from the people who don’t. The people who have things they want to write about but can never get around to it can probably start listing ideas off the top of their head. The people who have to do this for a living, or at least as a part of their job, just groaned in mock agony.

Generating new ideas regularly can be rough, whether you’re doing it for blog posts, social media posts, videos, memes, newsletters, art, or anything else you can imagine. Waiting for inspiration to strike is, for the most part, a sucker’s game. If you want that lightning, you’re going to have to make like a scientist and shoot off a few rockets, metaphorically speaking.

1. Make it Your Livelihood

Okay, this is the nuclear option. You probably shouldn’t start here. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about just how fast your brain can work when you don’t have a choice. When your rent is on the line, you’ve got a special kind of motivation to pump out ideas. You start to consider ideas you might have passed up as “too weird”, or “too boring” before.

Then you find a way to make those articles work. And you find new ways to come up with ideas. You find yourself doing some of your best—and sometimes worst—work in the middle of the night, because that’s when things finally clicked.

2. Get Off the Internet Once in a While

Some of you best ideas hit you in the shower because that’s what happens when you give your brain a break. Your subconscious mind needs time to make connections, and it often works best when you’re doing other things that don’t require as much concentration. This is why career writers spend half their work day (and maybe longer, if they write fiction) pacing, staring out windows, and making coffee.

Also, talk to people. I know I’ve mentioned this before in other recent articles of mine, but… just talk to them. Whether you’re getting ideas from your conversation with them, or using them as a sounding board, never underestimate the value of a good conversation partner.

3. Follow the Trends From a Distance

Okay, trends can always give you something to write about. However, don’t just repeat what other people have said. Try to add something new to the conversation. Reference what others have to say on the subject, and add your own insights. Or come at the subject from a completely different angle.

Wait for other people to have the knee-jerk reactions, and write the hot takes. It’s probable that other people will always do this faster than you, so be patient. Take advantage of others’ immediate reactions and the extra time to build a more nuanced perspective on any given issue.

Of course, the Internet is a big place, and chances are good that you’ll end up saying something rather similar to what everyone else says. That’s kind of inevitable. But it’s worth trying to say something new.