The best ideas may cross your mind at any time, so keep a notebook handy. You never know when something exciting will inspire your next story or essay. In fact, many people find that their best ideas happen just before they fall asleep, so it's a good idea to keep a pad of paper on your bedside table.
Instinctively, jot down ideas as they come to you. Don't think about whether they're good or bad, just write them down. This technique, called freewriting, is especially effective if you do it in a group. During the brainstorming process, you can use an online tool or a whiteboard to organize and share ideas. Afterward, you can examine the ideas and choose those to develop further.
Another way to generate ideas is to look at what others are writing about. Check out industry email newsletters to see what topics are popular. Then you can create articles that answer common questions in your market or take a bold stance on a hot topic.
Creative people are idea adventurers who seek out inspiration wherever it comes from. They don't give up easily when an idea doesn't work, and they have a healthy respect for the many ways an idea can fail.
In the classroom, Glorianne Bradshaw, a teacher-consultant with the Red River Valley Writing Project (North Dakota), encourages students to draw and write about an aspect of their personal experiences. For example, a child's new haircut or the discovery of a tickle in their nose can prompt an interesting story.