Where do ideas come from?

‘Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.’

Orson Scott Card

As it happens, I don’t actually agree with this quote. I agree that everybody does walk past a thousand ideas a day but I think lots of people see them. The problem is that most people don’t then take them to the next stage which is to share them. Whether that’s out of fear of being judged or having their idea stolen, I’m not sure. What I do know is that sharing is the only real way to develop ideas that matter. It’s the only way to make them better and it’s the only way to guarantee that they see the light of day. Ideas are like stories. They are there to be shared.

The age of Enlightenment throughout the 18th Century was, in part, driven by coffeehouses. They were a place to discuss ideas. Alexander Pope’s ‘Rape of the Lock’ came from the gossip heard in a coffeehouse. People shared and people cared less about protecting what they were sharing. Artists of all shapes and sizes knew instinctively that sharing meant validating, building and improving. 

So, my advice on how to generate ideas? There’s no advice needed on how to develop them. Every person on the planet can do that. The key is to share them as soon as you have them. With colleagues, with friends and with your family. You’ll soon find out if the idea is capturing the imagination and, even if it isn’t, it’ll be fun finding out.

As Socrates once said, 

‘Weak minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, brilliant minds discuss ideas’.