Maybe you are trying to think of a way to save more money. Or perhaps you’re trying to find new ways to earn more money. You might be looking for an idea for a blog post, or a vacation. Regardless, of what it’s for you need to know how to have amazingly creative ideas because the more creative your ideas are, the more exciting your life will be. That’s my battle, fighting the natural tendency to live an ordinary life. To win this struggle I aim to have as many great creative ideas as I can, the issue is so many of my ideas are pretty bad!
How to be a Creative Idea Factory
To be completely honest, most of your ideas are bad. I know this because most of my ideas are also bad. The first ideas in most people’s heads are wildly unrealistic, deadly uncreative, and absurdly unreasonable. Once we realize, accept, and get over this, we can embrace it for the blessing it is.
Having bad ideas is not a disadvantage. Maybe you tell yourself “I never have good ideas.” I know that I can poke a hole in any idea that comes into my head making it pop from great to awful in a matter of seconds.
The Unexpected Solution
Having fantastic ideas is just a matter of getting all the bad ones out of your system. There is something oddly magical about having a bunch of bad ideas. The majority of my good ideas end up spawning from ideas that were not just bad but quite awful.
Step #1: How Many Good Ideas Do You Need?
If we want to get the bad ideas out of our head, we need to know how many to get out. After using this method of getting terrible ideas out so the great ones can show themselves I have determined a wildly unscientific and untested (except by myself) formula. It works for me, and I want to know if it can work for you.
I’ve observed that somewhere between 10-33% of my ideas are decent. Only about 1-5% would be qualified as great or amazing. On top of that, I like to have a small handful of great ideas from which to pick.
First I determine my final number of ideas. Multiply that by 5, so I have a small number from which to choose and then divide that by your “success” rate (somewhere between 10-33%). The magic formula, where X is the number of good ideas, looks something like this:
(# of Amazing Ideas * 5)/10-33%
I wanted to think of one good headline for this post. That means I needed to think of somewhere between 15 and 50 headlines. Just using the first one that comes to mind won’t cut it! I usually come up with about 25 headlines for each post. This one I happened to go a bit crazy and had over 50 potential headlines. Most of them were atrocious.
Does this number seem way too high? It should, the more crummy ideas you get onto the page, the better off you will be. Anything less than ten ideas is not enough. Don’t worry we will cover how to fill up the empty list of 50 in a minute.
Step #2: Don’t Hold Back, Write Everything Down
You’ve got a blank page in front of you, and you need to fill it with 25+ ideas. Welcome to the worst feeling in the world. Here’s my secret to getting over it: Write something down. Ta Da! Now the sheet isn’t blank anymore.
You have ideas in your head, just put them down on paper. It’s okay if they are the worst ideas in the world because no one will ever see this list. You will filter out all the bad ones, and the good ones will remain. You will look like a creative genius to your friends and family, but you will know the dark secret of how many bad ideas you have had.
Step #2.5: Write Until You’ve Surpassed Your Goal
Creativity is a counter-intuitive phenomenon because it’s a magically infinite resource. Maya Angelou said “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” You have an unlimited number of ideas in your head since your goal is a finite number you shouldn’t have a problem filling it up. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s amazing what our brains can come up with. Filling up your list is just a matter of time.
Tip – Riffing Off of Bad Ideas
My favorite way to fill up a blank page is to write down an awful idea then examine it. There is always one thing in that bad idea that I like. My next idea is a “new” idea based on the parts I like.
While brainstorming family vacations, my awful idea is “Hunting bears in the remote Alaskan wilderness” I can use a part of this I like and riff off of it. I like the idea of going to Alaska, however, bear hunting, and remote wilderness isn’t my family’s cup of tea.
My next better ideas are Fishing in Alaska, Hiking in Alaska, or Bus tours of Alaska. I like the idea of bus tours, so I come up with “Bus tours to see Bears in Alaska’s National Park Denali” which in my opinion is a pretty solid vacation idea.
Step #3: Eliminate All The Bad Ones
You know all those atrocious ideas that I told you to write down? Now I’m telling you to get rid of them. Why did I even have you write them down in the first place?!?!
1) For you to riff off of bad ideas
2) Some of your “bad ideas” aren’t so bad
Reread your list of ideas and eliminate any that you think are obviously bad. This process will remove at least 50% of your ideas. Next figure out your qualifier. How do you know if your idea is good or not?
Determining a Qualifier
Business ideas should be profitable, and blog posts should be something that relates to your audience. You need to have a way to test if your idea is good or not.
To determine your qualifiers ask yourself the question: What components does a good approach have? For a vacation with the family, I must have an event that everyone will enjoy. I can quickly eliminate ideas that I don’t think my brother or sister will enjoy. There are multiple components of a successful idea so determine these before you start filtering out more ideas.
Mix and Match Your Favorite Ideas
Like the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ Megazord the most powerful ideas are a combination of many mediocre ideas. If you have two ideas that both have strong features, try to combine them together. A solid pairing of okay ideas will create a powerfully good idea in the end.
Step #4: Settle on One
Now you have a handful of good ideas the hard part is picking a favorite one. At the beginning of this exercise you didn’t think it would be easy to think of enough good ones to fill up a page, now you have too many.
An important thing to avoid is the allure of a perfect idea. An executed good idea is infinitely better than an elusive perfect idea. All ideas have issues with them. They aren’t polished and flawless tactics to implement. Where’s the fun in working on something that you know is going to work? Stop being so critical and pick an idea that you can pursue.
Keep the Backups Safe
Once you’ve settled on an idea that is great keep the backups safe. The ideas that were good, but not quite as good as your final decision, can be used again in the future. You can use these other options in case your initial plan fails. Some bloggers use their backup headlines as tweets in the future. Serial entrepreneurs are known to jump to another idea after their first one fails. Because of this, keep track of your other great ideas.
Step #5: Execute Your Idea
Don’t listen to the dozens of demons that are telling you that this idea isn’t good enough. You’ve qualified it and compared it to many other ideas. Self-doubt will keep you ordinary, and you want to avoid that at all costs. Now is the time to take action and become a doer. Ask yourself “What is the next smallest step you can take to act on this idea?” Write that down and put it on your to-do list and get it done by tomorrow! You don’t need a plan from A to Z you just need to take action on A and B will present itself.
Now go forth and do! Schedule some time and sit down to get the bad ideas out of your system. Good, great, and amazing ideas will present themselves. There is no limit on your creativity. A system like this will help harness your creativity effectively. Get a blank sheet of paper out and start listing out ideas.
Let me know in the comments below: How are you going to use this? Are you looking for gift ideas for others? Brainstorming Instagram posts? Or perhaps you’re trying to think of creative ways to save money or start a side hustle? After commenting, act and get rid of your bad ideas!