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Ideas are the easy part

By Asa Rodger, first appeared on my blog.
Est. read time = 05:51:33]

Yes, start with an outrageous claim Asa, great idea. Over the past few years of designing designy things I’ve become tired of hearing the ultimate wankery and prestige that seems to lurk around ideas. Everyone has ideas, all day. Little shimmers of passing thoughts as the mind wanders — it’s what our brains are hard-wired to do. And they ARE amazing, especially when we learn how to recognise, guide and apply the ideas. Now that I’ve cooled down, the title of this article seems a tad extreme but the much less glorified (yet equal) skill is in overcoming the obstacles between vision and reality — making ideas happen.

I was exposed to this early on, the first design studio I worked in had a quote by William Bernbach plastered across the wall as you walked in the front door and I guess after walking past it 1,000+ times it started to sink in to my mind.

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Doodled by me, on (Sorbet Yellow) paper samples, the sexiest paper on the market by GF Smith.

I’m just back in Scotland after spending a week in London on a design job and the first thing I noticed about Europe’s capital is the tempo that design moves at. Trends change faster, prototypes are built quicker, business is sharper and everyone is chomping at the bit to be first not last. There’s a serious creative buzz to get swept up in and if you don’t hurry up, you’ll be left behind.

People making stuff happen is the tangible difference there. Being sunk in it lets you see that everyone is having ideas. The ones that stand out are the ones who have turned thoughts into words and words into actions and done it better than the rest.

Scott Belsky, founder of creative platform website Behance, confessed to have spent six years studying the habits of creative people and teams that are especially productive — the ones who make their ideas happen time and time again. Ideas for new businesses, solutions to the world’s problems, and artistic breakthroughs are not uncommon. Don’t sit there reading this like you haven’t had driftwood thoughts about each. Still, execution is rare.

Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s not about better or more ideas, it’s about actually making them work. I don’t believe ideas are as easy as the commonly thought of ‘Eureka’ moments but traversing the barron landscape of bringing them in to form is often where the golden touches make that juggernaut a little easier to tackle.

1 — Answer your boredom

It’s hard to even get started turning mind into matter. There are so many easier distractions to boredom — melting infront of the telly, thumbing through cooler people’s highlight reels, inhaling a crate of ice-cream, No? Ok, Just me. We can make a choice to create or consume (no, I’m not talking about the ice-cream anymore), the difference for me is how I feel afterwards.

2 — Stop giving all your fucks away

I’m crippled by this and constantly working on it! We can call it ‘perfectionism’… or fear. Questioning how others will receive your creation IS design but shelving work again and again on the answers gains nothing. If it flops, make sure you still have a take away — sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. Give your work to the world and hold on to your fucks, don’t give them so freely. They are very precious. As Dr.Suess says;

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Doodled by me, on (Candy Pink) paper samples, the sexiest paper on the market by GF Smith.

3 — Enjoy the process

Everything will change! Rarely have I had ideas grow in a linear fashion. They are much more organic and span out like a spider-web, morphing and growing over time rather than direct execution with laser precision. Let them branch out, turn in to something different or inspire completely independent directions. Sometimes the best way to let ideas grow is relaying it through someone else’s mind for a kickstart in a new direction. Know your enemy, know your self-doubt.

4 — Expect the hardest part

Losing weight is easy when there’s lots of weight to lose. Sweating a few kilos off while looking at the banned donut seems no biggie to start with. Those same two kilos are going to haunt you getting from 12% body fat to 9%. The same with pulling together ideas, the distance between hurdles will condense the closer you get to the finish line. Store a little in the mental gas tank for the finishing touches or endless revisions and don’t be dejected by this.

5 — Throw it out there

Tell someone you’re doing it, show work in progress shots, map out your development. There’s a valuable little step between thinking something through and making it. Thoughts become words and words become actions. So throw it out there into the cosmos — whether you subscribe to The Laws Of Attraction, Plato’s first law of affinity that ‘like attracts like’ or simply believe in making yourself responsible for not telling lies about producing something. Pressure makes diamonds!

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Doodled by me, on (Park Green) paper samples, the sexiest paper on the market by GF Smith.

Everyone has ideas, these are just ways I’ve figured that work for me squeezing a little more juice from the fruits of mental labour! What works for you? Any easy wins that I’m missing?

— Asa

Written by

Open-mind & scrambling for improvement. Side-projects, solo travel & turning to-do lists to done lists! Designer at @MadeBrave >

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