Today I am going/went to the State Library to talk about where ideas come from. That makes this something like Schroedinger’s post, since I’m writing these notes out for attendees a few hours before the actual event! Is it a post that’s happening now? Is it a post that’s about to happen? We just can’t tell.
However, as I’ve undoubtedly already said on the panel, this is a lot easier than remembering links.
To quote Zap Brannigan: “So without further ordure…”
Let me summarise my points for how I come up with ideas. The big trick with generating ideas is that, as with almost anything in life, you can’t simply follow someone else’s steps to success. After all, if there was a reliable formula to become outstanding at something, then everyone could be outstanding at that thing and it wouldn’t be outstanding.
However, here are a few tips for how to generate stories and ideas. Try them for yourself, see how they work for you, knock them around a little depending on whether you want a story first or an idea first or a character first.
Bonus points: I might not even remember/have remembered some of these at the panel.
Step 1: Prime Your Brain With All The Things
- Absorb narratives
- News articles
- Absorb experiences/skills
- Overseas holidays
- Parenting (even temporarily, with a loaner)
Step 2: Give Your Brain Time To Mix
The best talk on this I’ve seen is John Cleese discussing creativity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qby0ed4aVpo (30-ish minutes)
In short, he says your brain can be in Open mode and in Closed mode. In Closed mode you are focussed and can get work done. In Open mode your mind wanders and free-associates, and you can be creative.
The key is training your brain how to switch between the two modes. This is different for everyone, and I wrote an article about how that works for me here.