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How to Have More Good Ideas: Uncanny Creativity 34

“Ideas come from everything” Alfred Hitchcock

If you want to have more good ideas, then have lots of ideas. Brainstorming is only a part of the story.

Step 1: Look for missed opportunities.

If you’re trying to have more ideas, there’s a penalty for not having as many options.

Framing: We tend to come up with ideas based on how they’re presented. 93% of PhD students registered early when given a penalty fee for late registration. Only 67% registered early when identical pricing was presented as a discount. If these students would have thought of the missed opportunity of early registration, they would have saved money.

Consider more options to counter framing. How could the advantages be a disadvantage? What’s positive about the problems? For Example when I’m painting, when the work not looking the way it imagined. Colors are off, anatomy problems. Frame this as an opportunity.This is chance to learn about anatomy and color!

Step 2: Find ways your initial ideas don’t work.

Explore opposites. Look at ideas that were you’re against or are dismissing. Do those have any advantages

Confirmation bias is bad. Are you familiar with confirmation bias? It’s the notion that we tend to try to prove our initial ideas. In the original 1960s experiment, when given the numbers “2-4-6” participants guessed that the pattern was even numbers. Then they tried to test this rule by proposing more even numbers such as “4-8-10”. Researchers would confirm that these even all fit the pattern. Of course, then participants stopped guessing. Satisfied that they had found the correct answer. Most participants wouldn’t guess the pattern which was … increasing numbers!

Cliches are not bad. Consider writing down and sketch all of the easy cliche ideas. Explore ideas that contradict your initial ideas. When I’m designing a travel magazine, I’ll look at travel magazines. That’s the obvious place to start. Then look at any other kind of design. And photos. And fashion. Why does the color scheme have to look like everything else?

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old”  Peter F. Drucker, management consultant, professor and writer

Opportunity cost is a thing. When I became a graphic designer, professors told me that I needed to be an artist, or a designer, or a pianist. I figure I could be all of these things. I can play piano as a hobby. Work as a designer. Paint on the side and do occasional art shows. And I can blog and podcast. And have friends and family. Don’t miss out on valuable experience because you didn’t consider your opportunity costs!

Step 3: Combine ideas from various inspirations.

If you have an “Either/Or” problem. How can you change it to “And”?

Avoid the either/or fallacy.  Sometimes there’s tendency is to think of opportunities as one or the other. Can you do both?

We also sometimes tend to see our options as all good or all bad. Nothing is perfect and there’s often something to learn in your attempts. A mediocre idea could be executed really well. Or be the spark of even more options

“Different people have different ideas. We need to kill them—the ideas, not the people. The people we just need to torture.” ― Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not FOR SALE

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Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

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Brian E. Young

I'm a graphic designer (portfolio), classical pianist and artist in Baltimore, MD. I host the Uncanny Creativity Podcast helping to demystify the creative process and creator of, an online shop for apparel and games. Twitter: @sketchee

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