Ideas do not always come to us when we expect them to. Sometimes ideas slip our grasp, while others do not come stepping on the welcome mats of our minds. Ideas are unexpected and there is no telling when they will present themselves.
Though there are five ways you can expect the unexpected.
1. Don't think.
Thinking is the most unavoidable part of your day. You are always with your thoughts, especially when it comes to the next thing you have to be doing. How can you bring yourself to stop thinking?
You don't "stop" thinking, you just "don't" think as much as you usually do. Thinking too much can lead to unnecessary hesitation, which can get in the way of your imagination. Substitute thinking with feeling. Get to know your emotions, then you can think about them more.
2. Clock in.
You sat down, have come back to your work, and off in the distance you see the same thing you saw yesterday and the day before that. A page hungry for new words. Nothing good is ever immediate.
Better said, the unexpected idea takes time to come to you. When the clock on the wall looks to have frozen hands, thaw them out by sticking to your routine. Sit this work session through, even if you aren't getting new results. You can wear out your muse with an exercise in patience and earn that new idea.
3. Cool off.
Stepping away from your work can be the hardest part of your job. You want to deliver sooner than later and you are confident you can beat the deadline. You must also know that you have time.
You too can make time for you. You don't have to be idle either. Do something less intensive, like going for a walk or taking a nap. Sometimes unexpected ideas find you before you find them.
4. Listen, talk, and listen again.
We all have two ears for a reason: to listen twice as much as we speak. The people you know, and even people you don't know, might say something interesting or related to what you're looking for.
After listening long enough, ask questions, keep the conversation going. You don't have to tell others why you're so curious; people will be flattered to hear that you are interested in what they have to say and share. Outside sources are not only great inspiration but they often carry unexpected ideas.
Daydreams are an alternative kind of thinking. You are not thinking about the task at hand but at the same time, you are without knowing it. It helps to look ahead at what you want things to be.
You daydream about where you see yourself in the future. You daydream about the story you want to tell and how to tell it. Daydreaming is the best way to remain present in these fast moving times.
Focusing on something else, even if it seems silly or unrelated, can be a new way to gain perspective and new, unexpected ideas.
The unexpected idea is not trying to lead you astray. It only leads the way it knows you best.