How To Turn On, Tune In and Turn Up Your Inspiration and Brainstorm Like a Pro and Produce Ideas That Will Transform Your Life, Make You Boatloads of Money and Maybe Even Change The World
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
You’re an internationally loved, best selling fiction author. You’ve sold millions of copies of your books. Some of them have even been made into movies.
Imagine you’re standing in the front of a room crammed with your loyal and adoring fans.
Correction. Hardcore fans would be a better description. These people love you so much that they’re willing to get tattoos of you on their bodies kind of fans.
It’s the Q+A part of the evening. One of your favourite parts of these nights.
A bright eyed, nervous, pimply faced teenage girl, makes her way to the mic. She musters up the courage to ask you a question. Something that has been gnawing at her soul ever since she finished your first book. You see, she’s a writer too and she wants to know, “Where do you get your ideas from?”
And a little bit of you hates her. Not because of the question. And not because of the pimples. Or the nervousness. No, you find all of that a little endearing. Cute even.
No, you hate her because you know that your answer is going to disappoint her. Break her heart a little even.
But you smile, take a deep breath and answer,”Where do I get my ideas from? I make them up. Out of my head.”
And a little piece of you dies as you watch that tender smile of hers disappear.
But there’s nothing you can really do for her. She wanted to know. She can’t be mad at you. All you did was tell her the truth.
Where Do Ideas Come From?
Almost all the story above is fiction. I made it up. Out of my head. The only thing that was true was the authors response.
Who was the author? Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite fiction writers.
And why did I come up with that intro? Because the original intro to this article sucked. It was bland and boring. So I started to poke around and do some research on ideas and brainstorming.
That’s when I came across what Neil said. And after I read that, the idea just “popped” into my head.
Inspiration and ideas can come from anywhere. They can hit you right between the eyes like a left-hook from Muhhamed Ali. Or sneak up on you like a ninja in the night.
Tons of great ideas have drop-kicked people at the weirdest of times.
Maybe you’ll get an idea while walking in the park or from a chance encounter with a stranger that you’ll never see again. Maybe there’s something that drives you bananas and out of your frustration you’re pushed to find a solution to it.
Brainstorming Ideas – Liquid Paper
Betty Nesmith who was an executive secretary in 1951 noticed that the increasing speed of electric typewriters was creating more and more mistakes with no real way of fixing them.
She set her mind to the task of figuring out a solution to this problem. Eventually she was inspired to combine a water based paint and a white coloring agent.
Blammo! Liquid paper was born. In 1979 she sold her Liquid Paper Corporation to Gillette for $47.5 million dollars.
Brainstorming Ideas – Amenities
John Todd, a product engineer and frequent flier was getting tired and frustrated that he always forgot his shampoo whenever he traveled.
After some serious brainstorming an idea flashed in his mind.
Why not have free amenities for hotel guests with the brand name printed on one side and the hotel’s on the other. John’s idea resulted in annual revenue’s of $11.7 million dollars.
Brainstorming Ideas – Some Techniques To Help You Churn Them Out
Million dollar ideas aren’t limited to geniuses. They’re open to everyone. To you and me. To the homeless man in the street. We all have the ability to sit-down and take some time to brainstorm an idea that can help to make us independently wealthy.
This power is inherent within us. There’s no secret mantra that’s required.
Inspiration is everywhere. That’s true. But sometimes, when the pressure’s on, we end up dead in the water. That’s when it’s time to bust out some techniques to help you brainstorm.
Brainstorming Ideas – The Art of Awareness
One of Neil Gaiman’s ways of coming up with ideas is first to notice them. He said that,“You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”
Noticing your ideas is an overlooked art. By some estimates we have about 1,500 thoughts per minute. With all those ideas buzzing around our brains there’s got to be some golden nuggets hidden in there somewhere.
The trick is noticing them.
Being aware that they’re there.
Be ready to capture that inspiration as it bubbles up to the surface of your conscious mind. Make sure that you have handy:
- A notepad and pen (This is what I use. I tried using a palm pilot but it just took too long to jot things down.)
- A digital recording device
- A cell phone (Just leave yourself a message on your home phone. Or text yourself.)
Brainstorming Ideas – The Daydreamers Technique
Neil gets paid to be creative and off the wall. That’s his job. He’s good at it. Like it’s hotwired into his DNA.
I find these techniques work well for the creative types. The daydreamers and artists out there.
For these types of people Neil said that, “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored…You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions.”
The most important of the questions is just, What if…?
“What if you woke up with wings? What if your sister turned into a mouse? What if you all found out that your teacher was planning to eat one of you at the end of term – but you didn’t know who?”
Another important question is, If only…
“If only real life was like it is in Hollywood musicals. If only I could shrink myself small as a button. If only a ghost would do my homework.”
And then there are the others:
“I wonder what she does when she’s alone…”
If This Goes On…
“If this goes on telephones are going to start talking to each other, and cut out the middleman…”
Wouldn’t it be interesting if…
“Wouldn’t it be interesting if the world used to be ruled by cats?”
Brainstorming Ideas – Pressure Cooker Technique
Last week I met up with two young entrepreneurs for a consultation. Part of the homework I gave to them was to:
- Come up with an elevator pitch
- Get clear on their vision
- And make it sexy and interesting to investors.
They had 48 hours to do it.
Deadlines put the pressure on us in a good way. When we know that “we have all the time in the world” to get something done we usually do just that. We’ll put it on the back burner. Ignore it. Or even forget about it completely.
But when you get clear on a goal and set yourself a deadline you force yourself into creative action mode. You flip a switch. Turning on your brain and telling it to, “Start working on this right now!”
Guidelines For Brainstorming Ideas
Alex F. Osborn was the granddaddy of of the brainstorming movement. He was a creativity expert and an adman.
He laid out four basic guidelines for succesful brainstorming sessions: defer judgment, strive for quantity, freewheel and seek combinations.
Lock Up The Monkey Mind – Defer Judgment
One of the biggest roadblocks for awesome brainstorming sessions is to get caught up in whether we think an idea is good or bad. Forget the judgment for now.You can analyze the ideas latter.
Churn It Out – Strive For Quantity.
“Quantity breeds quality.”, that’s what Osborn said. Just churn out ideas. Let them pour out of you. Start anywhere. Start with the first thing that pops into you head. Just get the ideas down on paper.
That’s So Crazy It May Just Be Genius – Freewheel
Let your imagination run wild. Try the “What if…?” technique that Neil uses to come up with ideas.
Fried Pickles – Seek Combinations.
Beer and ice cream. Someone came up with that idea and has made millions in the process. They slammed two crowd favorites together, Guiness and ice cream, and created a very interesting little niche product. This is also known as piggy-backing, hitch-hiking or the modern day mash-ups.
You Can Be A Brainstorming Machine
There’s tons of ideas just waiting to flow through you. Ideas to make your life better. Ideas that can make you rich. Maybe even change the world. But you’ll never know about this power if you don’t open yourself up to it.
Try it for yourself. Take some time this week and see what kind of ideas you can come up with.
And why not check out Neil Gaiman while you’re at it. I love his stuff. Three of my favorite works by him are:
- Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
- Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
- Sandman Series Vol 1: Preludes and Nocturnes
p.s. Have any brainstorming techniques that really work well for you? Please share them below.