What is an idea?
In essence, an idea is simply a new combination of existing elements. The important principle here is the ability to see relationships between seemingly unrelated things. To some people individual facts are seen as separate bits of knowledge. To others they are a link in a chain of knowledge that has relationships and similarities. In the search for ideas it’s important to view facts as individual elements of knowledge that can be combined in new ways to create new ideas.
How can you guarantee you’ll have ideas?
There are only five steps to idea generation. This is the secret to all creative thinking.
There are thousands of books with hundreds of pages about how to be more creative and have more ideas. We think between us we have probably read most of them! Anyhow if you want to have ideas then the steps below are all you need. Just follow the steps in order, don’t miss any out and the ideas will flow.
The first step is to gather as much information about the subject you are working on as possible. The information will be specific to the subject, but also generic information that might surround it. It seems obvious, but it’s amazing how often this step is either missed out or done half-heartedly. With the time pressures of modern life it’s so easy to miss this bit out and just try and have ideas immediately.
Trust us when we say that inspiration won’t strike if you ignore this first stage.
This is not a step that someone can do for you either, as the process of gathering is just as important as the material that is gathered. And you need to go far and dig deep. The information you are now gathering is the start of the ideas process.
Within the information will be the relationships that are the foundations of your idea. If you take the time and effort to do stage one correctly then stage two will start to happen automatically.
2. Idea generation
The start of stage two is when the first ideas start to appear. By working through stage one your mind will suddenly start to generate ideas. This stage is all about working with the information you have gathered and using it to find relationships and ideas. Little ideas and half-baked thoughts will start to form.
Write them all down, however crazy they may seem. All ideas are valid. Push yourself really hard, work through your research and keep the ideas coming.
Eventually what started out as a flow of ideas will start to dry up and it will get harder and harder to think of new ideas. Don’t give in just yet. Keep going. You will get a second wind. However there will come a point where your mind will become confused and nothing will make much sense anymore. You are now ready for stage three.
In the third stage you do nothing. Just forget about the problem and go and do something else. It’s important that you do this. This stage is as crucial as the preceding two. You now turn the problem over to your subconscious and let it go to work.
You may not appreciate that you are thinking about it, but you are actually thinking about it all the time in the back of your mind. So when you get to this third stage, relax and find something else that stimulates your interest.
If you have followed the first three stages then you will definitely experience the fourth. Suddenly an idea will appear. It will come when you are least expecting it. The morning commute, in the shower or when you are half awake. This is when the ideas come. When you have stopped working and troubling yourself over them, and enjoyed a period of relaxation from trying to have ideas, they just start to appear. Write them down and prepare yourself for the final stage.
This is the stage where you have to decide which is your best idea(s) and share it with the world. This is easier said than done, but is vital to its success. At this moment you love your idea, you have worked really hard to create it and the last thing you want to expose it to is negative comment.
One thing is guaranteed: rarely will anyone initially think it is as brilliant as you yourself do. This stage is often the hardest stage of all. Be patient, listen to the feedback you get and work diligently to adapt your idea until it’s fit for purpose.
You will know when your idea is ready and is a good one as suddenly another revelation will take place. Rather than the idea receiving criticism, the opposite will happen. The idea will start to grow. Anyone who sees it will be inspired by it and find it quite natural to add to it, and things you had not previously thought of will reveal themselves.
First gather as much information as you can, then study it and make connections with it until initial thoughts and ideas start to form. When you can think no further, stop and do nothing and suddenly ideas will appear from nowhere. Finally, share the ideas until they take on a life of their own and you will know you have succeeded.
Hope this helps.