A Technique For Producing Ideas


James Webb Young

My rating:
June, 2020


There is a process for coming up with ideas that any of us are able to replicate. It takes work but can be depended upon if the process itself is trusted. A brief, 80 year old volume that enjoys a special place in the history of writing about ideas.

My Notes

The Technique

  1. Gather raw material - both 1) specific to the subject matter, and 2) general to your wider interests. Herein lies the possibility of interesting and new combinations between the two. Write things down and keep them somewhere you can find them and, ideally, make links between them.
  2. Process the material - allow it to sit in your notebook and in your mind for a time. While it is in your mind, your conscious and subconscious thought processes will chew on what you've taken in. This is where a sort of jigsaw-like synthesis takes place.
  3. Drop it completely - go for a run. Sleep. Take a bath. Play a videogame or read a crime novel. Step away from what you have been thinking about.
  4. Let the idea appear - trust the process as above and ideas will begin to formulate and bubble to the surface of your mind.
  5. Bring the idea into the real world - make the idea practicable, useful and attempt to make it work in the real world. 'Submit it to the criticism of the judicious.' Without this step it's just a pipe dream. 'Good ideas have self-expanding qualities,' in that those who see it may add to it productively.

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