How to Begin a New Creative Project

My biggest idea-generation secret.

How do I begin to tackle a new creative project?

People always ask me how I "get ideas"…either so quickly, or so many… or for projects in areas and industries that are not even in my realm of industry expertise…the answer (and one of my secrets) is that I'm never in the position of starting a project or creative endeavor, from a "beginning". My starting points are often far ahead. I've already researched and gathered hundreds of relevant examples and ideas that are ready to use, look at, applied to whatever project comes up. My ideation process is separate from that actual creative project…it's an on going habit of absorbing and harvesting absolutely everything.idea

My trick is that I am ALWAYS on the look out for ideas, and when I'm not on the look out, I still capture and save things I see that might have potential. All the time, everywhere…When I'm gathering in this way, I don't necessarily look for ideas for a specific project…I look at anything I'm inspired by. From multiple industries and sources. And I save. This is something that has become one of my best habits, one that has helped me for almost every single project I've been part of. When the pressure is on for a new creative deadline, I start with taking inventory of my collections, and from there I can build and solve and create. Having that foundation of resources, or hooks (that I've already discovered and labelled as "a great idea" either yesterday or last year)..makes the initial creative process for a new project so much easier. 

As I am in the business of connecting and transforming, I tend to look differently. That is another habit I've perfected as well. I "sweep" really…My idea gathering has a flow. It's like the ebb of the ocean, a constant energy…the sweeping waves never really stop, they speed up, they explode, they slow down, but there is always that current force…As I'm always in this flow when a new project comes along, I rarely antagonize myself into "being creative". I'm already in it.

I think of ideas as my design tools and construction blocks rather than solutions to the problem. I never really understood the "aha" moment…or putting ideas on pedestals. The final concept is built with ideas, from many different sources…unlike traditional design tools… "idea tools" need to be refreshed – often – so that's why, besides saving – I keep harvesting - first thing when I awake, in between client work, while I'm watching a movie, in the car, at checkout lines…I capture what's going on in marketing, promotion, branding, design, shape, copy, fonts, layouts…and I save it.

Idea gathering is so important because ideas cannot be generated instantly when a project needs one. Ideas are formed from masses and piles of insight and inspiration, and thoughts…

Anyone who needs to find solutions to problems and think of new ideas should have an idea vault…not just "creatives". In my next post on this subject, I'll tell you fertile places I go to harvest for my idea vaults.