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Let Yourself Be Outlandish

Too often, you try hard to fit in rather than stand out.

Even when you stand out, you still want to look cool, confident, and professional, all while you’re internally freaking out.

Then you wonder why your creativity is drained, blocked, or nowhere to be found.

Most likely, you’re not letting yourself be outlandish enough.

What does being outlandish mean?

A quick Google defines outlandish as being bizarre or unfamiliar. Letting your freak flag fly, as the saying goes. Putting yourself out there, taking chances, doing whatever you please regardless of how the world sees it.

When you’re trying to generate ideas for your next creative adventure, it is the perfect time to let yourself be outlandish. Even if the idea you settle on is more mainstream, you can still explore some wacky ideas and have fun with the process. More importantly, you’ll learn a bit more about yourself and what kinds of ideas inspire and challenge you.

Why idea generation is like Tindr

Let’s say you’re brainstorming topics for your next blog post. The most common approach to this is to open a document, stare at the page for a minute or so, and bemoan the fact that you have no ideas, you’re blocked, and you might as well wait until next week anyway.

This approach is like going on Tindr, and trying to date someone before you even swipe right.

What do I mean? Let’s break it down even more:

  • You want an idea, a dang good one. It has to meet all of your requirements before you even put it on the list.
  • Since you have no way to know if a thought floating through your head has the potential to grow into a fantastic, fleshed-out idea in advance, you don’t allow yourself to write it down. Quite often the ideas seem outlandish, too far out of left field, to ever fit into what you’re trying to create.
  • You end up with no ideas and a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

    Now let’s see what happens if you took this approach to Tindr:

    • You want a partner, a dang good one. They have to meet all of your requirements before you even swipe right.

    • Since you have no way to know if an awkwardly filled out dating profile has the potential to bloom into a fantastic, fulfilling relationship, you don’t allow yourself to swipe right. Quite often the available choices seem outlandish, too far away from your ideal of the perfect mate, to ever fit into the relationship you’re trying to create.

    • You end up with no dates and a tub of mint chocolate ice cream.

      Seems like a pretty awkward way to try to date, right? Then there’s no reason to try to approach creativity the same way.

      Unlocking the outlandish within you

      So how do you break out of this pattern, and allow yourself the freedom to explore every possibility? A few tips:

      • Capture every fleeting thought. If all you can think of is “something about monkeys” for your next blog post, write it down. You may not have any idea if you’ll ever write about monkeys (or how), but your brain will begin to understand that you are ready to entertain any idea at all, and will stop holding ideas back.
      • Switch your technique. If you love lists, start an audio recording of your ideas. If you prefer mind mapping, switch to a video of yourself rattling off ideas. Even writing with your less dominant hand can spark new ideas.
      • Start with the most outlandish thing you can think of. Instead of trying to begin with a list of safe, sane blog post ideas, go to the other extreme. If you’d never write about flying pigs, put that first. Same with circus clowns, parcheesi, and that time your mother embarrassed you at the dentist. Once you’re already thinking of ludicrous things, your brain may start generating wild ideas that do actually fit into your plans.

      Go ahead and give it a try, and let me know how it goes. You might have some fun - and discover you’re far more creative than you realize.

      Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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