Where do Ideas Come From? How to Generate Creative Ideas

idea kuratingGreat ideas come from unexpected places. Keep that in mind. The Eureka! inspiring idea may just be staring you in the face right now but you don’t even know it.

We have to first dispel the notion that an idea is a single thing. An idea is a process. What you call the light bulb moment actually doesn’t just happen. It started a while back. Maybe a year, maybe a day. Ultimately, ideas are cobbled over time, built into giant towers from small scraps.

Inspiration is often elusive, you need to consciously take steps to get that idea.

Thankfully, there are some things you can do to force the idea to the fore.

Create the environment

It’s important that the environment is right. Ideas are more likely to jump at you when you are around new things. Also, emotions are important, positive emotions and high spirits are more likely to inspire ideas. Within is influenced by without, ideas come from both places.


Nothing is new under the Sun is a favourite Yoruba saying and it’s very true. To generate seemingly new ideas, your best bet is to remix. Arrange old scraps and mould into something new and sparkling.

Let it go

Give up. Sometimes you have to let it go before it comes. You shouldn’t keep banging your head against the wall. Forget about that idea or that thing niggling at the fringe of your mind threatening to be the idea you’ve been waiting for, but not quite taking shape. Breathe in, breath out.  Think of other things, do routine tasks.

Let ideas have sex

You have these ideas that you don’t find quite banging, you haven’t quite gotten what you want. The solution to the problem is idea intercourse. They will likely birth something new. Even when your two ideas are seemingly unrelated. You can put your creative juices to use and come up with something wonderful.

Connective mind

The key here is random association. Connect seemingly unrelated concepts, persons, objects, words etc.  A connective mind has a better shot at coming up with the idea of the century.

Trust your ideas

Don’t be self-conscious, ease up on quality and let the thoughts flow. Some persons shoot down their own ideas because they never think it’s going to work.

You hear things like, “It looks like a good idea but it just won’t work.” You must learn to trust your ideas. Don’t be quick to discard the ideas. Let it form and flourish into what it’s meant to become.

Be prepared

You can’t come up with a medical breakthrough if you know nothing about medicine. Similarly, coming up with a marketing idea requires that you equip yourself the requisite knowledge.

Pay attention

Ideas fly around, they are in everything. You have to pay attention, especially to the places you want your idea to come from.


A mind that actively seeks knowledge is open to ideas. ‘I want to know’ is very central to generating ideas.


A conscious effort is all you need sometimes. All of the other tips may be dependent on this particular point. While ideas may just fly at you. Sometimes, you also need to decide that you want to grab it out of the air.

Serendipity has a lot to do with great ideas. Sometimes the light bulb moment just occurs as a result of a totally unexpected combination of events. Serendipity will give life to your conscious effort, curiosity, preparation…

You may want to listen to other creative minds talk about ideas and how to generate good ones. This TED talk is a good place to start. Where do ideas come from?

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