Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to Think of Creative Ideas

By Kev Llewellyn

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This is a technique for thinking up very good, creative ideas, you have most certainly used it yourself before but due to its simplicity and understated process you probably weren't aware you were.

An awareness of this process will help you to recreate the same conditions and access those Eureka moments whenever you need to. It will also help demystify the design process used by many top advertising agencies, copywriters, engineers, comedians and scientists. In fact Einstein professed to getting his best ideas while he was shaving (as a part of this process)... but don't worry if you are a lady because any form of distraction for your conscious mind will work; all is revealed below.

Simply follow these steps...

Step 1. Identify what it is that you need to achieve. Be absolute and as concrete as you can about this so that you are not leaving too many different directions for your mind to look in. Sometimes identifying what it is you need to achieve is what you need a big idea about, this is fine, just bring this knowledge to step two and take the whole project one level at a time.

Step 2. Research. This is the bit most of us tend to skimp on because the prospect of it really does seem mundane and often difficult to initiate. But it is imperative to your success. Like most unappealing tasks, it is also easier than you anticipate and can even be fun once you get started so make yourself a big mug of tea and jump head first into it.

Don't just research the direct topic but also research around it soaking up as much info as you can, the goal is to fill your brain to bursting point, feeding it up with even half related material. It might help if, as you go, you sketch out a simple research tree that shows the core topics with branches coming off that you discover may be related to the topic and will need your attention. Not only does it make your research more efficient and less frustrating but it also leaves a graphical imprint of your findings that support the next stages of the process.

Step 3. Do nothing. Leave the whole process and go do something else for a day, maybe a few days or even a week. Go to the cinema, see friends, do anything that keeps you from thinking about the problem you are trying to solve. You have to give your subconscious time to chew on all of the research you have assimilated and let it build connections between revelations and dismiss the irrelevant.

Eventually, like Einstein, your subconscious will work out what it all means and push the good stuff up to the surface, resulting in an epiphany while you are doing something that occupies your conscious mind. You just have to make sure that you keep an open mind and don't debunk ideas that may seem absurd because quite often these thoughts can be left field and unlike your usual, methodical conscious conclusions.

Ideas developed this way tend to feel more impressive, often revealing simple but subtle insights. I think the best jokes tend to be the ones that have been born in the subconscious and often you can tell when a joke has been laboured over or if it seems to lack the steps the conscious mind would need to discover it.