On inspiration, ideas, and deep thinking

To write for high-visibility publications, you must consistently identify, develop, and share insightful ideas with the publication’s readers. For many, the process of presenting new ideas month after month after month feels daunting. As someone steeped in your work, you understand the challenges and solutions within your area of expertise. That clarity and depth of understanding might lead you to underestimate the value of your knowledge, experience, and insights.

But you are not your audience.

While information is widely available in our digital age, practical insights born of knowledge and experience are rare. But how do you discover and develop ideas that you can turn into shareable content?

Five steps to developing and sharing impactful ideas.

Like any worthy endeavor, developing and sharing impactful ideas is a skill you can learn, develop, and practice. And the more you develop and practice that skill, the easier and more enjoyable it becomes. Here are three steps to developing and sharing impactful ideas:

  1. Follow your curiosity. When something attracts your attention, pay attention. Dig into it. Allow yourself time to play and explore. And then, ask yourself what sparked your curiosity. Explore that too.
  2. Capture your ideas. Write down your ideas, and synthesize new ideas constantly. Note anything that captures your attention. Whether you’re reading, listening, watching, or experiencing something new, do it actively. Don’t just capture the facts. Capture your ideas about those facts. A simple yes, and or yes, but will help you capture insights. And the value lies in your insights. ​
  3. Carve out time to think. You can’t think deeply about an idea when you’re interrupted every few minutes. You have to concentrate and turn the idea over and over again, examining it from all sides. You have to identify and question your assumptions. Commit to deep work. Let your mind wander a bit — make associations, draw connections, and surprise yourself. Be open to the magic.
  4. Share your ideas. Once you’ve developed your idea, you have to put it in a format that allows you to share it with others. You might share your idea in a blog post, article, newsletter, podcast, short video, or LinkedIn post. Sharing your ideas allows you to test them, see how others respond to them, and identify gaps in your thinking.
  5. Refine your ideas. Even the most narrow idea has deep, interconnected roots. The more you explore a single idea, the more nuanced your understanding will become, and the more easily you’ll be able to identify related ideas. Capture and develop these as well, and you’ll find you have an inexhaustible well of ideas.

One way to capture your insights is to use a research journal. A research journal allows you to note the source of the idea, capture quotes from that source, and add your insights. Download a research journal template here.

​There is something almost magical about ideas. If you hold on too tightly, they slip right through your fingers, and you lose them. You have to dance with your ideas; otherwise, they might not stick around.

Ideas are woven into the fabric of the universe. It’s as if they are waiting for us to give them form and substance. Our job, then, is not to create ideas but to recognize them when we see them. The best ideas don’t exist in a vacuum. They dance with one another and with other people. The more you share and refine your ideas, the more impactful those ideas become, and the more new ideas invite you to dance.