To get to the good ideas, you have to go through a lot of bad ones.
James Altucher has a technique he follows to exercise what he refers to as his “idea muscle”. Every day he will create a list of 10 ideas. These ideas could be about anything and he isn’t concerned whether those ideas play an important role in his life. Instead, he just wants to create new connections, to come up with wild and crazy options. As many of us know, we get better at the things we practice. By practicing coming up with creative ideas each day, James is hoping to make creative ideas a little more intuitive and little easier to come up with.
This is an interesting idea I bumped into a few years ago and a few days ago I started implementing a similar idea in my life. Once every day or two, I will sit down with a notebook and just try to come up with thoughts and ideas I don’t think others would think of. Most of these thoughts are wild, with no connection to anything relevant in my life. My hope is that as I go through these odd connections, I stumble across a few connections that might be interesting. I might find a really interesting story idea or a new way to help out the people around me. I don’t really know where it will end up, but I find the concept interesting and believe the outcomes could be fruitful.
I like this approach because it’s a structured plan to hopefully light up creativity. I think a lot of us view creativity solely as a stroke of insight or a characteristic of a certain person. We see certain people as more creative and think they must just luck out with more of these insightful ideas. I often make that assumption too, especially since it feels like my good ideas often come out of nowhere. It’s an idea I held for a long time. In school you’re taught that you can improve in math, science, and history, but they don’t say anything about coming up with better ideas. Additionally, how do you keep track of how creative you’re being at any given moment? I know I don’t and I would guess most people probably don’t.
I haven’t followed the practice enough to say whether it works for me or not, but I thought it was an idea worth sharing for those that want a new experiment in their lives. Maybe making deliberate time to brainstorm new options will show you a new career opportunity or lead to an amazing experience with friends. Or, maybe you’ll just have a little easier time creating new ideas. If creativity interests you, it might be worth giving a shot.