Come Up with New Ideas in 5 Simple Steps


Everyone's creative. We can all come up with ideas and build something, bring something new into the world.

Make babies. Not necessarily the crying pooping sleeping human sprog-kind, but something you nurtured and grew inside your mind. Here's how.

We talked about creativity yesterday, and here's where I got the inspiration: Maria Popova's post about this book, "A Technique for Producing Ideas" by James Webb Young, ca. 1939.

Young outlines 5 steps to idea creation, and I think they combine all eight functions beautifully and effectively.

1. Learn voraciously

Or, as Young put it, "gather raw materials". He compared it to the kaleidoscope - with every turn you get new images. The more colored shards you add, the more diverse images you'll receive. You need to fill up your internal library with notes, and they can come from experiencing the real world and interacting with it (Extraverted Sensing), engaging and empathizing with other people (Extraverted Feeling), as well as searching your memory, reliving the past (Introverted Sensing), or envisioning the future (Extraverted Intuiting).

aka "what"

2. Digest the material

Look at what you've learned, dissect it, play with it, examine it. The functions you can use for analysis are introverted Thinking (logical, precise) and introverted Feeling (liking, disliking, valuing what's more important).

aka "what if"

3. Let it simmer

Young called this portion "unconscious processing", meaning leave it alone, go away and occupy your mind with or do something else. I love this part. It's terribly exciting and kinda scary on the one hand, because what if the idea gets lost and doesn't come back? Well, maybe it wasn't meant to be.

aka "hmmm"

If it does come back and you're lucky, it's with a noticeable:

4. Eureka!

Or "a-ha" as Young and Oprah called it. This is very much an Introverted Intuiting word. See the lightbulb? It's bright and sparkly and awesome!

aka "whew"

5. Now go do something with it

The creation part of creativity. Make sure the idea works. Put it to practice. Share it with others. Write that sucker down. The processes used here can be Extraverted Thinking as you plan and execute the idea logically, as well as Extraverted Feeling, where you take other people's reactions and the potential impact on harmonious relationships into account.

aka "how", "when", and "who"

Isn't creativity beautiful?

Image by Andres Nieto Porras, Flickr, Creative Commons License.