Great ideas are a precious commodity, because if properly executed, they can make anyone’s work memorable and stand out from the crowd. Since finding them requires exploring new avenues and going beyond old habits, looking for the common factor behind all great ideas is counter–productive. It’s infinitely better to focus on the method behind their formulation instead.
Take Your Time
The brain is a messy thing, and it needs time to resolve everything inside into coherent and workable thoughts. While some of the greatest ideas in history come as flashes of inspiration (like Archimedes’ “Eureka!” moment), the reality is that most realizations aren’t so instant.
Never rush, because this approach naturally makes you go for the easiest route, formulating ideas that are simply straight rehashes of your old ones.
Long–term or large–scale projects, such as books, are created from a series of great ideas. Taking your time becomes more crucial in this situation.
Try Something New
Break old habits, experience new things, make yourself uncomfortable. Continue doing the same things, and you’ll come up with the same ideas.
Get Another Perspective
It can be hard to try something new when you’re stuck in your usual way of thinking. And it’s even harder to break such a pattern of thought. This is the perfect time to consider someone else’s perspective, because they may point things out that you’ve never even thought of.
Review Previous Work
Go over previously accomplished projects may yield some ideas. With some changes, they could potentially suit your current projects’ requirements and actually turn into great ideas.
For instance, a web designer specializing in blog design is asked to create an AdSense–friendly WordPress theme. Instead of coming up with an entirely new approach, he can look through his portfolio and adapt an old project that’s been proven to mix ad units effectively with the content.
Adapt Other Great Ideas
Aside from your own work, you can also check out the work of others, especially that of. Ultimately, new great ideas are “remixes” of previous ones. Take a look at great work, and maybe you’ll find something you can build on.
Adapting great ideas is also something you should do until you’re more confident of your own inventive abilities. David Ogilvy freely admits to copying his idols as he developed his skill and became known as a great copywriter.