Reading Review: More Ideas

A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Young

This book was originally presented in 1939 to advertising students. It is very short and its advice quite simple. And, while the book focuses on producing ideas for advertising or marketing purposes, the technique can be applied to any creative work where the need for ideas exists.

It is a five-step process: 1. gather raw materials (or information) both for the immediate issue and for your general store of knowledge. Young’s thought is that the more you know about many different topics the more likely an idea will occur to you. So, someone who wants to produce ideas should be constantly capturing raw data about things they observe. 2. Work over the information in your head. 3. Incubate – let your subconscious do the work. In this step, Young suggests you go to a movie or engage in some other activity that has nothing to do with your current project. Give your active mind a break and let the idea float around in your subconscious. 4. An idea occurs – pops right into your head at random. 5. Work that idea into a form that’s useable.

Simple, right? Right. Seems simple. But apparently simple doesn’t mean wrong. Even though it was written 73 years ago it’s still valued as some of the best advice on the subject of idea production. And, if you think about it, isn’t this how ideas seem to occur? We wake up one morning with this amazing new thought but the idea didn’t just materialize out of no where – it came from information that we had already observed at some point. If we can train ourselves to actively engage in steps 1 to 3, those ideas would probably pop up a lot more often.

Great book. Check it out on Amazon.

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