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  • Writer's pictureSophie Thi

Where do ideas come from?

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Modern-day creators do not need to wait for inspiration to strike to generate new ideas. Follow this ideation technique and become a better content creator.

In ancient times, it was believed poets, sculptors and writers would get their inspiration from higher spirits such as the gods and goddesses. Even though this idea might sound romantic it does take the power to ignite inspiration away from the creator. The process of generating ideas and finding inspiration can actually follow a certain technique and if you understand that process, you can better generate ideas.

In 1940. Advertising executive James Webb Young published a book ‘A technique for producing ideas’ in which he says:

“An idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements”

According to him, the process of ideation is simple: all ideas are made of different, similarly disparate elements in order to create something new.

Here are Young’s four steps to producing ideas:

Gathering raw material

Content creators and marketers consume content from a wide variety of places and they’re curious and interested in a wide variety of topics. To generate the good output: ideas, you have to take care of the input: the amount of raw material that constantly flow in your mind and create new ideas. From magazines to online newspapers, to Snapchat stories or industry content, creators do not limit themselves to one type of content and remain curious about all kinds of content. A helpful tool is to keep a repository of ideas. You can keep a swipe file where you can paper clip your ideas or use digital tools such as Google Docs or Evernote to save the content that inspires you and might be helpful to generate new ideas.

Digesting the material

In this phase of the ideation process, you bring the different ideas together and try to see how they could fit together. Sometimes it is obvious sometimes not but good creators can see relationships, connections and combinations between ideas that seem disparate. After matching the ideas together, the goal is to synthesize them in interesting and fresh ways.

Unconscious processing

After thinking about a problem it is time to actively NOT think about that problem anymore. When you take your mind off the process of ideation, your unconscious takes over and processes the information in its own way. This incubation time is very important as it is the period when you let your mind rest and organise itself.

Eureka moment

Ever heard people saying they get their best ideas while taking a shower or walking the dog? Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, an idea will pop into your head. Usually, it happens we the least expect it - when that happens, makes sure to write it down.

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