Generating Ideas

There is no single and true process for generating a killer idea. What works for one creative probably will not work for another one. The same for projects. The idea in project A probably will not work in project B.

When we start thinking about possible ideas for a particular project we stumble upon many limitations. The curious moment here is that this limitation can be set by ourselves. So to break this meaningless loop and really generate as many ideas as possible I propose to do next.

1. Generate as many ideas as you possibly can, but do not try to edit them on this very first step. Just be in the flow and generate.

2. There are no bad ideas. It doesn’t matter what you think about the idea. It seems silly or plain? Record it anyway.

3. Confused? Stuck? See rules One and Two.

Mind maps

Try using mind maps technique. It allows you to start from roughly from one or two words that describe your project and draw a bunch of multilevel branches around it. So it looks like the rough structure of your thinking about a certain topic.

Mood boards

Mood boards are great for brainstorming on visual concepts. You can capture different pieces of artworks or projects from any inspiration sources you can find, such as websites, magazines, photos, words and any other visual artifacts you can imagine.

Notes

Notes is one another way to collect any ideas that pop up in your head. I use notes app all the time on my MacBook and iPhone. I can write down something that just came to my mind, draw a simple sketch and describe it in a couple of sentences, add links on websites, add photos etc. It’s very simple and useful tool to collect bits of data that streaming through your head.

Alternatively, to notes app, you can us notebook, sticky notes or just paper sheets. Anything you feel comfortable with and can use without boundaries.

Camera

I believe that every creative nowadays has a good camera in a pocket to do instant shots. Any smartphone nowadays can do good enough photos to use them as a part of research or even creative assets in your work.

The key here is to document the process. That’s how you generate materials around your research and brainstorm sessions. Then you can choose what will be useful in work on a project or for generating more ideas but on distinctively another level.

Take a break

The brain responds amazingly to a short vacation. Take a break, don’t force your brain to generate more ideas if you feel tired. We often have deadlines, but if you can’t think about new ideas anymore then we need to change something. Go out for a walk, do sit-ups, go for a coffee, whatever is different from sitting at the desk or in front of a computer – do. This will help you to switch modes your brain work and recover your creative power at least for some time.

Stay inspired

You can find inspiration almost everywhere. Check posters, magazines, inspirational websites and boards, go for a walk and notice what people wear and how they combine different wearables in terms of color and style.

Nature is an excellent inspiration. I get some inspiration in the form of color palettes for my projects from colors that I see in the sky, leafs, water, sun and how it mixed up in the real life. If it works there it can be done in digital design as well. The world is full of inspiration.

You can watch one of the design movies that become more popular nowadays. These are not about Marvel superheroes and how they beat super bad guys. I like these movies as well… But here I’m talking more about movies that are not that popular but created with a unique vision. Sometimes, I don’t even understand what a director of a movie is wanted to tell, but I notice lots of visual elements, such as interior, nature, how people look like, what are they doing in different scenes, a color palette that has been used in post production, etc. You can find films like this by searching for genres such as indie film, art film, documentaries about design or futuristic films.

Museums are also great sources of inspiration. You’ll not find there something that you can use right away, but it can inspire you on something in the design area that you are in. For example, I like to explore different techniques that artists used and compare how this is connected to time frame or events that were happening in the world. It’s all more abstract knowledge, but sometimes it pushes you to new ideas or help to push some of the boundaries in the things that you do.

Books are also the great source of inspiration. You can find there a certain idea, try to understand different mindsets or explore new worlds. It can be not one book, but many of them or even a combination of book, blogs, articles and other readings. All of it can shape in your head a unique idea that based on knowledge that you got.

Generating ideas is only the starting point. I believe that ideas itself are cheap, but still, we don’t have alternative starting points in our creative journeys. I hope that tips mentioned above will help you successfully generate great ideas, but do not stuck on it and move on to the next stage. Start implementing and then shipping it. That’s how you make your ideas worth something.

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week,

Max

P.S. I'm writing a book on remote work and business for creatives, which you can pre-order now. I have no comments area here, Tweet me your questions if you have.

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