Idea generation: Theory of creativity


One session on the writing course I was on this week, was on 'idea generation' and 'creativity'.

A background idea to creativity that I have often heard and believe, is that creativity is something to be practiced, and that you learn with practice.

Some of the highlights/tips from Nick Page for practicing creativity that you could use for blogs ideas, talks, books, anything, were:

1. Bisociation: Make use of bisociation, a term coined by Arthur Koestler to describe how two different semantic fields produce a different meaning.

In other words combine things from different worlds, and see what it produces. Do this with words, ideas, themes, topics. We see this with inventions, where someone observing a fly on a ceiling, gets the idea for velcro. Ideas and inspiration come from association.

Evangelism and mission involve bisociation, the entering into of other people's worlds.

2. Environment Scanning: Go into different book sections in a large book store, scan and read from a wide variety of areas, to enter into other peoples worlds and get more ideas, from bisociation etc.

I do this monthly already, over a coffee and a few dozen books and magazines from Borders.

3. Ideas Bank: When you have a great idea and think you'll remember it, you often don't. Carry a notebook, use a memory system, or something, but make sure you record your ideas. Build an ideas bank.

I use a memory system, and in particular a memory bank route (journey method) that lets me park potential blog ideas for later use, and doesn't rely on a notebook.

4. Ideas Matrix: Make a grid with event, place, time, purpose, people and put 10 ideas in each, and then look for patterns an associations, between ideas. You can generate 100,000 ideas from this simple matrix, and maybe at least one will be useful.

5. Reverse Thinking: Look at the opposite, flip things around, turn them upside down. Think of the opposite extreme and move it back a notch.

6. Question: Don't be defensive, question and let other question your ideas, it leads to better ideas.