By March 27, 2014 Read More →

Where to get ideas

Where to get ideasI never get ideas while sitting at my desk.

If I sit down to think about something I quickly come to a dead end.

So I’ve learnt to get up and do something else.

Cleaning the bath is strangely productive. Ironing is quite good too. Anything repetitive I can do on auto pilot while my mind wanders off on its own.

An article I stumbled on recently explained why this is the case. In her post Want Brilliant Ideas? Go Beyond the Box; Get Connected to Your Intuition! on the Huff Post Lifestyle blog, Becky Walsh refers to those painful ‘brainstorming’ sessions where your boss urged you to ‘think outside the box’.

And no matter how hard you tried, no ideas came up. ‘New ideas require a lack of thinking, they require intuitive knowing’ says Becky, going on to describe five ways in which you can become more open to your intuition.

Do you enjoy long solitary car journeys because your mind ranges freely while your unconscious does the driving? Ever arrived at your destination with absolutely no memory of the journey?

From Becky’s article I learnt that this is called a liminal space, neither where you were or where you’re going, a place that’s neither one thing or the other, where your intuition speaks to you more clearly.

Ah, so that explains why train journeys are so productive of ideas and I always come back from a trip with a page of scribbled notes! And why so many home workers like working in coffee shops, where they can forget about all the stuff that drags us down – the piles of paper on the desk, the messy kitchen – and imagine other possibilities.

When A and I lived in Cornwall, we had lots of business meetings and planning sessions on the beach, and they were always the most enjoyable and productive times.

What other liminal spaces have you found? Where do you get ideas?

9 Comments on "Where to get ideas"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. I get a lot of ideas, probably most of my best ideas, when I’m out shopping, when I’m thinking of something other than writing. I can stress for hours, days, trying to call down that creative bolt of lightning but not feel even a mild zap. But then, when I’m taking a jar of mustard off a supermarket shelf or checking out the latest fishing magazines on a newsstand, it’ll hit me.

    Often we underestimate just how efficiently our subconscious can work when we stop breathing down its neck.

    • So true, Robert, and it can be hard to have the confidence to let go. We’ve all been so indoctrinated that we have to work hard to get results. You’re the first person I’ve heard say that shopping produces the ideas for you – useful anecdote, thanks!

  2. Nei Rourke says:

    Definitely think good ideas come when not ‘forced’ . I have had many good ideas , especially problem solving during the night. ( must be semi conscious or dreaming? ) And remember in the morning.! I agree that when driving things often come to mind, which is a worry when you should be concentrating. Must be on auto pilot!

    • Yes, I’ve sometimes wondered whether I drove through any red lights but the unconscious seems to handle it perfectly well!
      It’s a good knack to be able to remember the ideas that come up during the night. I put a notebook and pen by the bed when I’m working on something, to make sure they don’t slip away before morning.

  3. For me it obviously has to be walkng outside in nature, just relaxing and absorbing. That’s when I am at my most creative.

  4. Hubby just cleaning the bathroom, I’ll ask him if he’s getting any bright ideas should I?

    I’ve found that I will get ideas when I’m chatting to others about their business (not mine). Very strange.

    • I hope he does, Sharon, he might start cleaning it all the time.

      I think you get ideas when talking to other people about their business because your mind is taken off your own thoughts, and so there’s space for new stuff to pop in. Another example of a liminla space, only this time an internal one!

  5. Jake says:

    The solitary car journeys are wonderful to find new ideas.

    Anyway, I learnt that more than new, the ideas must be useful. You can have all the ideas “out of the box” you want, but if they are useless then it’s just losing time and nothing else.

    This means going to the next level of brainstorming, yeah, more difficult 🙂