Saturday, October 18, 2014

MakerSquare Day 38: Ideas are cheap (8/5)

I've said it before--and gotten some annoyed looks about it--but I'll say it again: ideas are cheap.

Note: I say "ideas," not "good ideas."

But even with that caveat, I feel like my training in creative and non-fiction writing gives me a perspective on idea-generation that could get me some annoyed looks. So, to be clear:

When I say "ideas are cheap," I don't mean, "Ideas are cheap for me, I have a million ideas, they just come to me like a friendly bird":

I mean "ideas are cheap for everyone."

Sure, some people have blocks or difficulties--like the block where they tell themselves that they are not all that creative.*

*Sidebar: OK, I have three experiences that give me a different perspective on idea-generation:
  1. my grad school career, where I both had to come up with paper topics and teach students how to come up with paper topics;
    • killer question: "what's weird about this book?"
  2. my creative writing hobby, where I kept long lists of things that sparked ideas;
    • killer habit: writing everything down--everything from full-blown ideas, to notes on characters/settings, to single lines of dialogue, to single words that seemed stuffed with potential;
  3. my roleplaying/gaming life, which taught me that I could come up with ideas;
    • killer experience: playing a game recently with another MakerSquare student who started out saying "I have no ideas" and ended the game with "what if this happened? What if this other thing happened?"
End sidebar.

But really, if you don't self-sabotage by telling yourself that you have no ideas, I'm sure everyone can come up with a bunch of ideas. (Remember: I'm not saying these ideas are good.)

You could start with thinking about your day: what would make any area of your day a little better? What would help anyone you know?

Now branch out from there into things you're interested in: What would someone you know really enjoy? What's something that's cool? What's something that I'm passionate about?

Think also about the techniques and tools you might use: What's something that's challenging? [Note: this is an especially great question for creative writing.] What's something that's almost inside my comfort zone but not quite? What's something that I can do to show off a little?

Take a lesson from Tina Fey and her book Bossypants (or better yet, take a lesson from the improv classes that you took--because everyone should take improv classes): at this stage, just write down the ideas, without judging them.

See? Ideas are cheap.

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