How to Get Ideas

From:   How To Get Ideas  by Jack Foster
I’ve wondered how the Creative Process works. I came upon Jack Foster’s How to Get Ideas. I found his 5 Steps of great insight and wanted to share it. His book goes into it in much greater depth.
An idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements.

5 Steps (that should be taken in sequence)
1) Define the Problem
Since all problems have solutions, it’s critical that you define your problem correctly.
“How can I do all this work on time?” is vastly different from “How can I get all this work done on time?  The first question will result in all sorts of laborsaving techniques and shortcuts; the second, in dividing the work load up among others.
Edward Jenner discovered the vaccine for smallpox simply by changing the question from “Why do people get smallpox” to “Why don’t milkmaids get smallpox?”

2) Gather the Information
“A creative man can’t jump from nothing to a great idea. He needs a spring board” Bill Bernbach
Get as much information as you can. Most important- put your mind to it. It’s amazing what happens when you keep something in the forefront of your consciousness. It’s true. Think about anything and you’ll see it, you’ll hear it, you’ll sense it all around you.

3) Search for the Idea
“The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas.” Linus Pauling
Getting many ides is easier than getting the impossible ‘right’ one. Most important- Do something. Don’t just sit there and wait for an idea to come to you. Go after it. Work at it. Search for it. Do it.

4) Forget About It
“Saturate yourself through and through with your subject…and wait” Lloyd Morgan
The secret is to switch gears; to let your unconscious work on the problem that’s giving you trouble, while your conscience mind woks on something else; to ‘sleep on’ one problem while you start to work on another. Beside, your unconscious doesn’t know or care whether it’s working on a project that might change the world or on solving the latest trashy whodunit. It works just as hard regardless.

5) Put the Idea into Action
In an interview, when asked about her son, George Ads’s alleged capricious style and wobbly structure and shallow characterizations she said   ’“Oh, I know that many people can write better than George does. But he does.”
The truth is: There is no difference between (a) having an idea and not doing something about it and (b) not having an idea at all. You must screw up your courage and tell somebody about your idea. And if it meets with yawns or jeers, you must press on.

“Never Give Up on Something  You Can’t Go a Day Without Thinking About”

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