Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Last week’s list of steps to excellence had 8 ingredients… At least it seemed that way. I believe it really only has three or four. Let’s dig a little deeper and see if these things can just be grouped. One of those ingredients was to “have good ideas.” Let’s examine that a little more.

Some people would say that it’s not up to them if they get a good idea or not. Some people get them and some don’t. To an extent, I agree with them… But it’s not because of how they were born or that they have something that others don’t. It’s simply a matter of practicing generating ideas, and paying attention to how others have generated ideas.

This is basically the first couple steps of the design process. It’s learning. Understanding, researching, investigating, brainstorming. Many of you are not good at generating good ideas because you simply don’t endure. When it’s time to think, you go with the first thing that pops in your head rather than thinking, mulling it over in your mind, and thinking it all the way through. You’re afraid you’ll never have a good idea so you give up on the “idea generating” process, and therefore ensure that you’ll never have a good idea- You’re a self-fulfilling prophecy!

I daily check the Daily Inspiration at Abduzeedo. This keeps me exposed to new, creative, and innovative ideas. I check Creative Overflow. I check Media Militia. I do tutorials… at least 2 a week. I experiment and fail a million times. And that’s how I’ve become at least minimally adequate at generating ideas. I practice.

Even when not at the computer, I research and investigate. I see a movie poster that grabs my attention, I think about why. I see a poster that I love or a magazine layout, I examine what the designer did. What trick did they use I never tried yet? What elements and principles did they employ and how? Even when I see a beautiful or handsome face, I think about what it is in that face that makes it attractive to me. Flowers, bugs, trees, buildings, animals, sunsets, paintings, shadows, logos… I just constantly think about the idea that the designer had when solving the design problem (sometimes the designer is Nature!).

I see shapes, colors, symmetry, motion, line, balance… I just look. You want to generate good ideas? Start looking! Want to be a brilliant writer? Read good writers! Expose yourself to good writing. Want to be an amazing architect? Study successful architecture. Build models. Draw floorplans.

Stretch your brain.

JOURNAL– Do you take the time to struggle through the painful and frustrating  process of generating ideas to find the good ones, or do you more often find yourself hurrying up on the “thinking” steps to get to the “doing” steps? Do you fear or embrace failure? Title your blog “A Good Idea”