light bulb Where does an idea come from?  What is it that sparks the imagination so that it creates a painting, a screenplay, a poem, or a song?  I am fascinated at what it is that makes one day seem like a day where creativity spills out of my brain and other days it feels like scratching nails against a chalkboard.  I don't think there is a trick to make your day an idea-filled day, but I have noticed a few places that seem to help me generate ideas.

Ideas come from ideas.

We may like to believe that our ideas are completely original and purely from our own imagination, but the truth is that instead our ideas are likely connected to other peoples' ideas.  This doesn't mean we are stealing their ideas, in fact, it's not even close to that.  But the reality is that ideas, whether good or bad, inspire us to think of other ideas.  We may have an idea for a brilliant sermon series that was inspired simply from a word mentioned in an interview on TV.  It came from another idea; although there is no way anyone could ever figure out what the inspiration was.  You might have a bad idea for video clip to use, yet when discussing it with the team, it triggers somebody else with an idea that fits perfectly.  This is common.  Ideas inspire more ideas.  The more ideas you come up with, the more they will inspire.  The more creative inspiration you consume, the more ideas you will generate.

Ideas come from hard work.

Some days it feels like all your ideas are terrible and there is not a creative bone in your body; those are critical moments in your creative work.  You may not come up with any usable ideas on a day like this, but the creative work of putting ideas on paper improves your ability to generate ideas, and as we learned from the previous point, it may inspire other ideas on another day.  Creating, just like most other skills, requires us to work on it and improve the craft.  We will come up with great ideas if we go through the hard work and improve our abilities of creating by creating even on the uninspired days.

Ideas come from doing other stuff.

Have you ever had a moment in the middle of the night when you had a brilliant idea?  I have, and I've also had moments where I felt the idea was so brilliant that I could not possibly forget it...only to wake up the next morning only remembering I had a great idea and not remember what it was.  There is something about not working specifically on an idea that allows the brain to be creative.  I'm sure there's some science behind it, but all that I know is when I do things completely other than what I'm creating, it often allows my brain to be more creative.  What are mundane everyday tasks that you can do that will allow you to stop working on your ideas so your brain can be creative subconciously?

Where do you notice ideas coming from?

Photo Credit: Steve and Sara