As it happens I immediately saw the sense in half this link-fest of a Lifehacker piece on brainstorming.
Finding ideas in the funk of boredom (as Neil Gaiman suggests) makes perfect sense because I’ve had so many occasions where quiet drudgery or a rainy afternoon kick my brain into gear. I also entirely go for the principle that great ideas emerge with soap and shower gel; I’ve had more than one concept smack me in the face full formed while standing in the bath. The meditative state of personal hygiene sets ideas a-buzzin’.
While too many places I’ve worked seem to envisage working from home as some cozy get-out, I find value in the relative isolation. The presence of others around me, with the restrained chatter and activity – it does nothing for my focus and output. While a group might brainstorm well, I find so many ideas popping up when I have nothing more than myself, a pad of paper and a quiet room. It would appear that Isaac Asimov also appreciated the value of isolation for breeding new ideas.
Mind maps absolutely help me. However, I don’t necessarily think that anything so structured and well-formed need exist. I find value in scribbling on a page corner, tapping notes into Notepad or flicking through old notes to grab thoughts from past meeting; somewhere in the web of nonsense and half-considered ideas I find moments of inspiration. That’s the very place where censor free creativity arrives. I often urge co-workers and friends to cast aside the prison of a Word document and just get on with it. A blank white sheet of nothing serves no one.
Write anything and everything down. Scribble. Sketch. Take notes. Don’t scratch out your mistakes. Take advantage of all your old thoughts to serve as scaffolding for the new.
Even now, as I write this, I have a desk untidy with papers, many showing the mark of multiple pens and pencils. While I do housekeep my working environment, I never throw anything away in a hurry. I find that haste in getting tidy can come back to bite you when you realise you threw something important away.
Additionally, I strongly advise anyone keen on gathering ideas to get their smart technology in order. Choose an app for your phone – like Google Keep, Evernote or just the standard photo app – to store ideas, sketches, notes and anything else of possible value. Make sure you can access the ideas in the Cloud. I have found from past experience that if you have a notebook or app that isn’t always with you, you’ll leave it behind when you need it most. Best yet, make sure whatever app you use has a decent offline sync option – because the Cloud isn’t always there when you need it either!
Now I think I’ll get to writing the Top 10 Reasons Why Celebrities Don’t Read Top 10s and see where the day goes from there. If I’m lucky boredom might strike…