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How to Generate Unique Ideas

Man keeping colors in his hands - How to Generate Unique Ideas

There is a difference between having a spontaneous idea and searching for a solution to solve a particular problem. In the first case, your idea will solve minor problems in your life, while in the second case you need to forge a solution suitable for a specific problem, so it becomes harder.

Forging ideas is not a simple process. It requires creativity, skill, and constant work. Still, you can help your brain mastering it by performing some specific actions and habits. Since I was born, I was always an imaginative person. But I observed I get even more inventive in specific moments of my life, typically when I work on a writing project. So I forged a theory on how creativity works.

I call it: the Idea Bucket.

The Idea Bucket

Before starting, I want to ask you to imagine the generation process of new ideas as a bucket filled with fresh-painted geometric shapes.

When you were born, you received this empty bucket, a basic paint color, and a unique geometric shape. From that moment, each day you painted a shape, and you put it in your bucket.

Yet, when you interact with unique visions in your daily life, you get a distinct paint color, or a different geometric shape to put in your bucket. So, from that day on, you can add a new flavor to your geometric shape, or you can change the shapes by combining them.

From time to time, you can also search your bucket and take some shapes to beautify them with the fresh colors you accumulated in the meantime. You can then observe how those shapes got influenced by the fresh paint of the shapes added each day in the bucket. They mixed their colors while you weren’t careful, and you can continue to change them.

Therefore, the more you collect shapes and colors, the more complex your bucket can become.

A bucket filled with decorated and deeply elaborated ideas is inspiring. Still, you will discover how sometimes the beauty of an idea comes from its simplicity. For this reason, you shouldn’t only learn to paint, but also to use a paint remover to reset or simplify your ideas.

Infographic courtesy of the author - how to generate unique ideas.
Infographic courtesy of the Author

How to build a complex, multi-colored bucket

If you want to build a complex bucket, filled with unique colors and shapes, you need to work on it daily. This means acting in original ways, searching for new concepts, testing remote visions, and analyzing the difference between recent and past ideas.

Engage in observation sessions

Ideas won’t come to you spontaneously, this is the first thing you have to understand. They are your gold nuggets in your personal mine, so you need you to search for them, and work for them.

If you want to find new ideas, plan a specific time frame in your days in which you focus on the problems you want to solve. Then try to find one or more solutions, and write them somewhere, even if they appear foolish.

There’s an idea hidden in every thought.

Outstanding ideas are rare, so don’t bother if you don’t find any in a time slot. The simple act of striving for a solution will force your brain to focus on the problem and try to solve it even when you are not aware of it.

Also, according to Psychology Today, creativity grows with tiredness, so plan your observation sessions as the last thing to do before going to sleep. Sometimes, I fall asleep throughout my session, analyzing plausible solutions. Some other times, the shifts between sleep and wake allow me to find illogical or incredible paths. Still, I write all of them every time, giving value to each idea, even the strangest one.

Socialize outside your normal circle

Most of the time, an idea will be born from the dispute in your head between opinions that differ from yours. The uncomfortable state of mind generated by this struggle will allow the surfacing of alternative solutions. So if you keep your mind in motion, you will always come up with novel ideas.

For this reason, socialize with people outside your normal circle. Talk to strangers on the buses, at the bar, or even on the street. Meet new people, and remain open to their thoughts, so you can collect them and analyze the truth in each of them.

Refreshing perspectives can help the origin of an alternative way of thinking, and thus a distinct path to unknown solutions.

Read more books and make research

Books are a brilliant way of interacting with alternative worlds, since they simulate rare, or even impossible eventualities, into the actual world. Reading books can offer you other perspectives on reality, and thus extra entry points for idea sources.

There’s something to collect from any genre or point of view, so it doesn’t matter what you like to read. The more you wander between different genres, the more ideas you will encounter. Still, it is the analysis of impossible sceneries that allow you to forge new items to make them possible.

Keep an idea journal

Many people keep a journal, but very few keep a specific idea journal. This journal differs from the other since it contains only the greatest ideas of your day.

Consider it as the recollection and catalog of your finest achievements, the elite of your thoughts.

Reading your journal allows you to take those colored shapes from your bucket, analyze them, and add or remove the color from them. This is the evolution process of your ideas, that will make your thought malleable and shapeless.

I keep two journals, to have always fresh ideas. One is beside my bed, and I fill it every night with concepts and thoughts of the day. The other one is in my study, and I fill it with the best ideas of the week each Sunday. Before filling the second one, I also read some pages of it, in random order, so I get influenced before writing.

Improve your Creativity

Ideas are the product of your creativity system. Then, if you want to find ideas, you need to work on your creativity and understand how it works.

If you think about it, creativity is a cycle composed of three main phases: research, ideation, and inspiration.

Here I wrote an in-depth article about it.

Never stop the Generation Process

There’s a difference between having many ideas and generating original ideas constantly. If you want your bucket to always be full, never stop the generation process. Keep searching for unfamiliar shapes and colors, always. But don’t forget to take some time, look at the shapes you already colored, and beautify them.

Ideas take work and time to function. Each successful idea may come after ten unsuccessful ones. This is how it works. You can get always forge ideas, but this doesn’t mean they will all be brilliant ones.


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This article was first published on The Writing Cooperative.

Cover photo by Alice Dietrich on Unsplash.

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