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How to come up with awesome ideas

You've been taught to execute, not ideate.

Great ideas are life-changing and business-changing. 

Have you noticed how some people: 

  • Write about your exact thoughts 

  • Seem smarter 

  • Grow (almost) effortlessly

That’s what great ideas do. 

But contrary to popular belief, you can learn how to generate great ideas, instead of waiting for them to fall on your head. 

I know I was a dummy when I was younger. I thought every idea I had was the next big thing. 

Of course, it wasn’t. 

Yet, I’m able to live a good life from my writing business, and part of the reason is that I take the time to find good ideas. 

Most people don’t know how to come up with great ideas, and that’s a problem they don’t even know they have. 

Think about it: all your life you’ve been taught that execution matters more than ideas (when both are equally important). 

All your life you’ve executed other people’s ideas — at school, at work, probably at home as a kid.

We’re infinitely more experienced in execution and not experienced at all in ideation.

Today, I want to help you change that. 

Since I’m a writer and creator, it’s easiest for me to show you my ideation process in a writing context, but it works for anything. 

  • Want to come up with more ideas on how to promote your writing/products/services? 

  • Want to come up with more ideas on how to earn more money? 

  • Want to come up with more ideas on how to be more productive? 

  • Want to come up with more ideas about what to write?

Everything requires ideation. 

So let’s start. 

Using idea prompts.

As you can see even in my video, ideation isn’t an easy process.

Sometimes, we get stuck.

That’s when I like to use idea prompts.

Idea prompts are questions that help you come up with new ideas on certain topics.


  1. 5 of your personal stories about (your business) = 5 writing ideas 

2. The 5 most common pieces of advice about (your area of expertise) and your spring on them = 5 writing ideas 

If you’d like more writing prompts, you can get the 100+ Writing Ideas PDF here.

If you’re a paid member, you can access that product for free here.

Get into the habit of stopping to write ideas down. 

Here’s what I did before when I came up with a random idea: 

  • I’d think it’s a great idea.

  • I wouldn’t write it down because I’d surely remember such a great idea. 

  • I’d subconsciously try to remember it so I can work on it when I sit down to write. 

  • Then I’d work on it

  • Then I’d start looking for more ideas

The problem? While my mind was subconsciously trying to remember this one great idea, it couldn’t come up with more great ideas (science says so). 

Now, I do this: I have a great idea. If I can, I immediately stop and write it down in the Notes app on my phone. 

  • I open a new file. 

  • I write what the idea is about. Newsletter, Medium story, Event for my members, something else. 

  • I write the idea. 


Bonus: this gives you distance, which improves your perspective. Sometimes ideas that seemed amazing at first don’t seem so great later. Sometimes ideas that seemed meh turn out to be absolute gold. 

Coming up:

  • The “Become an Idea Machine” process

  • Don’t focus on you—focus on this

  • My process for finding great ideas in the writing of others

  • How to read your stats to come up with more great ideas

  • How to make ideas yours (it’s not just about ideas)

Get into the habit of ideation. 

So few people take the time to ideate.

When you start doing it more, you’ll find the ideation methods that work best for you. 

I have two ideation processes: one for when I know what I need; and one for when I don’t know what I need. 

When I know what I need — for example, a great headline, I’ll sit down and write at least 10 ideas. 

Usually, it goes like this: the first 3–5 are the obvious ideas. Then 5–10, you start to think outside the box and come up with something new. 

This is actually James Altutcher's approach that he describes in his book Become an Idea Machine. 

And if you can’t come up with 10 ideas? James says, come up with 20. It’s how the brain works. You up the entry, it suddenly finds the power to do more. 

That’s when I know what idea I need. When I don’t, but I feel something is off, I journal through it. It’s still about coming up with ideas, but first, I’ll put my emotions on paper. 

What bothers me? Why it bothers me — is there a real problem there or just an unresolved emotion? What do I feel would help? And if I don’t know, what would be my best guess? What stops me from doing something? What makes me keep doing something even though I feel it’s off? 

You answer all this, it’s like you’re freeing your brain from the weight. Suddenly, ideas start to pop up and I stop, mid-journaling, to write them down. 

Think about your audience. 

If you think less about your product and more about your audience, you’ll find it much easier to come up with ideas that resonate. 

Who are the main groups of people who buy from you? What do these different groups of people need? 

Read what others are writing. 

I’m subscribed to a bazillion newsletters. Honestly, I rarely read them all — but that’s a good thing. 

First of all, I notice what catches my eye. If it stops me from scrolling and makes me want to learn more, maybe it’s a topic worth exploring.

Second, if I love an e-mail, I’ll put a star on it and I’ll return later when I’m ready to ideate. 

To show you a part of this process today, I’ve opened an e-mail from James Clear’s newsletter which I love. You can watch the video to see the rest. 

Look at your stats. 

Learning how to read the stats of your current content is crucial for business success. 

Your clients/readers are telling you what they want by responding to what you put out there. 

You can see in the video how I use my Substack stats to dig deeper into a topic I know my readers care about. 

Have opinions. 

Ideas aren’t always about ideas. 

Sometimes, they’re about opinions. 

If you have no idea what to write about, see what’s trending and tell us your opinion about it. Opinions is how you make ideas yours.

Did you find this helpful? 

If yes, share it, so more people can learn how to come up with awesome ideas. 

Smarter Solopreneurs
Smarter Solopreneurs
Maya Sayvanova