817: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Where doing you get your ideas?

Hmmm. A few people have asked me this again recently, so I thought I’d go back over my process.

This is always evolving, so I’m not promising it will the same next year, or even tomorrow… but this is how it is right now.

1) Put a lot in. There’s no real way around this.

“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.” – Charlie Munger.

It doesn’t have to be books, but it does need to be quality.

2) Read three or four things at once … sometimes in wildy different areas, genres or styles.

This is important for creating connections. Your mind will look for patterns and parallels in whatever you feed it … and most of that creativity comes for free.

As I’ve said before, almost all of these podcasts are the result of putting 2 or 3 or 5 things together. I sometimes cook that way as well, but it’s a lot less successful.

One of the common pieces of creative advice is to then do something else – walks in the woods, or epiphanies in the shower are endlessly mentioned … and that definitely does work, but one advantage of reading wildly is that the ‘thinking about something else’ part kind of happens as a default.

Right now, I’m also writing Morning Pages, which I’ve talked about before. This is three long-hand pages first thing in the morning … which I do first thing when my mind is ready to pour out over the page. It’s a sprint. This morning I had five ideas in this as many paragraphs.

3) When the thoughts or connections come, capture them.

It’s easy to get obsessed about tools, apps or the kind of pencil you use. This is fun, but it’s also a trap. What we want is speed. Easiness.

I have two methods of capture available almost all the time. There’s a pen and notebook with me at all times, plus I have my phone.

The phone has a one-tap short cut that will take whatever I say and add it to my Ideas note. It’s the simplest thing in the world. The Ideas note is synced across my phone, Mac, and iPad.

Easy… I’ve got the wind behind me.

Actually, that’s worth mentioning. I try to make doing the work as easy as possible. Take this podcast. It’s about storytelling and business and life … which means that I can talk about anything I like … it often just needs a little twist to make it relevant.

That’s like parking on a downhill slope.

BUT … before we end I want to challenge the question. “Where Do You Get Your Ideas?” implies that ideas are the problem. In my experience, that’s not the case. I have more ideas every day than I could ever use.

The challenge, of course, is the execution. What do we do with what we have?

That’s the question worth asking.

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