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How to have an idea

In honour of International Ideas Month.....

Instructions to myself on how to have an idea

Firstly and most importantly: stop trying to have ideas. Gonzo, your creative brain, does not like to be watched while she is working. Look the other way. Look busy. She knows what's she's doing.

Two: fill your head to busting with the kind of stuff you don't need to know. Be educated, irritated, baffled, or tickled by:

  • Mr Google, Madam Facebook, Miss Twitter and all their lovely linkages.

  • Books, especially those you're not sure you want to read.

  • Listening to the experiences and insights of actual people known to you, eavesdropping those you don't.

  • Documentary films. Not the cutesy-fluffy kind, but the those that make you roar.

  • Your fine collection of anxieties.

  • New adventures, modest and grand.

Don't try to guess what Gonzo is looking for. She is mysterious. She is capricious. Surprise her.

Three: Eat lots of cheese. You love cheese and Gonzo loves a crazy dream.

Four: Stand in the shower for far too long. Swaying helps too.

Five: Avoid default daydreams, the ones you've been refining since forever, in which you're the star. Let new daydreams play behind your eyes.

Six: Write something you don't believe in, that you don't even like, then invite Gonzo to contribute. This will provoke her.

Seven: Don't let the inklings run away. You 'll know an inkling from an ordinary thought, because it will tickle. It might be an incomplete sentence or freeze-frame, a badly worded question, an earworm or a feeling of deja vu. Inklings are the stuff ideas are made from. Write them down exactly as they are.

Eight: Put the radio on and dance around the kitchen. Sing the wrong words badly. Get dizzy. You have no idea why this helps, but do it anyway.

Nine: Wait for the inklings to stitch themselves together into an idea. Gonzo says she does this, you suspect she just provides the thread. Either way, you'll know it's happening. It feels just like a holiday approaching, and just like a holiday, you can't make it arrive sooner.

Ten: Be ready. Gonzo aims to be inconvenient. She'll poke you awake in the early hours, or pull you to a halt when you're half way out of the door. You'll recognise her state of excitement. Wake up, stop what you're doing, pay attention. Here comes your idea, silly or strange, seldom easy, here comes your possibility.

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