Idea Generation Nation II

FC Now reader Robert Moss comments:

James Webb Young wrote a great little book for his students in 1939 called A Technique for Producing Ideas. It was first distributed in 1965. While the dates are old, the ideas are not.

The gist of it is as follows:

Knowledge is only rapidly aging facts. Principles and method are everything.

Ideas are only new combinations of old elements. Look for the relationships.

  • Gather raw material. Specific and general.
  • Listen for meaning in relationships in the material. Don’t look at them too directly. Turn them around. Try fitting the puzzle together differently. Write down the partial ideas. Burn yourself out. Keep going.
  • Take a break. Put it out of your head. Let your unconscious work on it. Do something else that stimulates your imagination.
  • Out of nowhere your ideas will appear.
  • Be merciless with your ideas. Do they hold up? Are other people excited by them? If not, rework them.

Thanks, Robert! That’s a useful blast from the past. Just goes to show that some ideas age more slowly than others. Young’s work is still applicable.