Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Forcing Creativity (aka Herding Cats)

As most of you know, I am working on My Next Big Thing. Most entrepreneurs discover a great idea, hone it, then run off to make it real. Not me. In typical Goofy fashion, I've quit my full-time, PAYING job first, to go work on the idea discovery phase. Backwards. As usual.

And I've been approaching this Idea Creation like work. Which is so wrong. And so not working.

I sit at my computer most days, surfing trend website, making notes, surfing business websites, making notes, surfing eBay, taking notes, etc.....looking for ideas that strike my fancy. Some days I rinse and repeat this process at the local library.

I have a notebook full of ideas that I don't love nor believe in.

I realized yesterday that I am going about entrepreneurship as if it was a corporate job. And (duh!) that won't work. Coming up with creative ideas is just like herding cats. You can't go about it in a systematic, organized way. The cats (or the ideas if you're following the analogy) simply look at you and yawn. "We are not playing that game," they say.

So how to get my brain to poop out a Creative Idea?

I think creatively in the shower. I could shower all day. But this makes it hard to take notes (they'd be all smudgey and stuff) and I'd be all pruney and I hate that. Bad idea.

I decided just now (yes, 2:00am Tuesday morning...what of it?) that I would take my husband's advice. He is of the Creative persuasion. He said, "Go walk the mall. You'll get a good idea of what's hot, what people are buying, etc."

While this is primo advice...I hate the Maul. I hate the pushy crowds, I hate the overpriced stores, I hate the People That Can't Park Right, I hate the whiny, spoiled kids, the indifferent store clerks, the stinky food court. Ugh. But I suppose it is just the bastion of capitalism that might steer me in the right direction, creativity wise.

Those cats better watch their asses. I'm comin' for 'em...

But I'm totally bringing a notebook and taking notes. Some habits die hard.

After the Maul, I will go haunt a local coffee house and do some people-watching. What are people frustrated by? What do they seem to want? World peace? A triple-mocha latte? A nap? Guess I will find out.

Those cats won't know what hit 'em. They will not only be herded, but in line in alphabetical order, before they even know what's going on.

I'll post about how this process goes for me.

In the meantime, do any right-brain-endowed readers have any ideas for me about creative-thinking strategies? Where do you get your best ideas? What else can I try?

I think I hear feline yawning!


Cagey said...

X says, "Solve your own problem". If you look at most "hit it big stories" like Google, YouTube, FaceBook the guys were just finding a solution to a problem that THEY had. Even X is solving his own problem with FoodieBytes - he was frustrated with the other food sites out there.

So, I would ask you - what are YOUR big frustrations?

Does that make sense?

Goofy Girl said...

Cagey - It makes total sense and X has mentioned it before. Here's the irony: Once I retired from Working for The Man, I have very few frustrations. None are all that big. Still thinking though...stay tuned.

lorib said...

Glad to have some new Goofy posts!

As someone who is expected to be creative daily (what was I thinking when I chose this career?), here are some of the things I do:
word association, sketch, research on the web

And when do many of my best ideas come? When I am driving to work (no kids in the car) or in the shower. But I agree, showering all day probably isn't a great idea.

An exercise we did in college that has always stuck with me -- find 50 ways to draw an apple. So consider taking some of the ideas that you already have and find 50 ways to modify that idea. You may come around to the Next Big Thing.

Cagey's suggestion is also great -- I bet that soon you will discover a "problem" you can solve.