Idea Incubator 10: Origins of Originality

 

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glass collection of Liane Sebastian
Methods for generating ideas vary—and trying several techniques will increase the chance of one working. New ideas are proven to come from experiences—the more travel, reading, attending, experimenting, the richer the conceptual rewards.

Here are some ways to reach an ‘ah-hah’ moment. In each case, mentally approach these activities without preconceptions:

1. Visit nature. I live by Lake Michigan, so my quickest refresher comes from sitting on the beach, gazing at the horizon. This technique helps me to prioritize.

2. Attend a show or museum. Perusing the galleries or going to the Art Institute—not looking for anything in particular—just a wandering—gives me perspective. When I was younger, seeing art could intimidate me, so I tended to go to the Aquarium and Planetarium.

3. Take the train. Scientists say that when moving, there are isotopes of energy that affect the brain. I find gazing out a train window, relaxed, I get some of my best image combinations.

4. Meditate point-of-view. Sometimes I will sit with my eyes closed and imagine I’m someone else. I play through what might be a typical day for them. I consider what might be that persona’s greatest worries. I try to mentally enjoy what they enjoy. And then—I jump to what they might expect via my creative project—the end-product.

5. Exercise. There are important parts of the brain stimulated by intense physical activity. I ride my bike and cross-country ski because both also put me in inspiring environments.

6. Shield eyes from competition. Unlike going to museums or galleries, looking at what other people do before you attack the problem will inhibit your ideas. Don’t look at magazines that relate, don’t research what competitors do until AFTER you have your own ideas. Then, this research is essential as a way to judge your own ideas and approaches.

7. Drink coffee. My drug of choice. Probably partly psychological, but when I get stuck, I take a break with a cup—that, of course, stimulates—and brainwaves seem to synapse faster.

8. Follow biorhythms. Everyone has a time of day that has the highest mental activityt. Mine is in the morning. These high-point times need to be planned and defended.

9. Turn into a ritual. This seems to fly in the face of spontaneity, but the mind has habits. If conditioned to generate ideas and approaches at a certain time of day, then, miraculously, the mind complies.

10. Mentally marinate. People don’t like to do this because it takes preparation and time. But it is very dependable:
a. Define problem in a written statement.
b. Compose problem into a question.
c. Jot spontaneous initial ideas for solutions.
d. Do research and homework.
e. Forget about it for a minimum of 24 hours.
f. Sit down with paper and write the problem.
g. Doodle with variables.
h. Put the sketches away for minimum 24 hours.
i. Start fresh without looking at the previous. Sketch fresh.
j. Repeat so three ideas arrive. Sketches accumulate without looking at them.

The results are fairly predictable:
a. The first idea is the most obvious and straightforward, expected.
b. The second idea is the safest and most conservative. The least challenging to produce.
c. The third idea is the craziest, most far-out, riskiest, and often the most expensive to produce.

Note that ‘brainstorming’ isn’t among the options. It is too risky to depend on brainstorming because the personalities involved either escalate or kill.

Author Suzanne Falter-Barns integrates creative approaches into her consulting business. From our discussion, she said:

“Brainstorming on a schedule is undependable. The activities of wandering and wondering stimulate good ideas that can seem to appear ‘out of the blue.'”
—Suzanne Falter-Barns, contributor toWomen who Win at Work

There is pressure to brainstorm with clients and their staff—becoming like a magician of conjuring ideas upon command. There is a way to approach this demand through composing the right combination of participants who all come to the table with ideas.
The characters present need to be ‘what-if’ thinkers who can grab a conceptual ball and run with it—not be of the balloon-popping nature—which is useful later.

Although brainstorming is not dependable, my best accomplishments incorporate suggestions from critics and collaborators—help from other creative thinkers who can help push an idea from good to great.

See the developing series of Idea Incubators.

Liane Sebastian, illustrator, designer, writer, and publishing pioneer

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2 Responses to “Idea Incubator 10: Origins of Originality”

  1. Idea Incubator 24: Emotions as Creative Guideposts « Wisdomofwork's Blog Says:

    […] Compass“    Gain clarity through matching conviction with circumstance. #10: “Origins of Originality” Explore methods for generating original ideas. #11: “Perfectionism—Agony or […]

  2. Idea Incubator 16: Gauging Good Ideas « Idea Initiator Says:

    […] is simple enough to grasp quickly. Through combining, editing, and developing, (written about in other posts) the idea is polished to express a have […]

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