On January 22, 2005, I wrote the following precursor to 10 Ideas In 10 Minutes called How to Brainstorm Right Now! I wrote it in my moleskin book while giving my daughter a bath. Previously, I had used her as an excuse, a barrier, to getting anything creative done. Sometimes a barrier can become a muse. It’s all in how you approach creativity. Here’s the full list, republished a year and a half later:
1. DISTRACTION IS OK
In fact, it’s preferred. (Right now I’m trying to give my daughter a bath!)
2. USE AVAILABLE MATERIALS
Don’t wait for the perfect set-up, it won’t happen. Don’t pine for your ’special pen’. Use lipstick on a napkin or fog a window with your stinkin’ breath and draw with your finger. Just get it out!
3. DRAW PICTURES
You don’t always have to write words. Use colours, faces, shapes, dots, musical notation, semaphor, morse code, fruit, animals, IKEA furnature.
4. CONNECTIONS DON’T MATTER
Don’t try to be smart. Don’t care if you’re daft. The solution does not have to relate to the problem. Your brain works in strange ways so you might as well get used to it. Let it go.
Panic! See what comes out. It might be crazy or shakey or too garbled to read. Then close your eyes, take a deep breath and hold it. Shut out the world. What do you see in your mind’s eye? Write it down fast because you’ve got less than a minute. Panic! Repeat as necessary.
6. WRITE THROUGH THE GAP
If you have a block or a moment or synaptic silence, just barrell through it. Write down anything so long as it’s something. The first word in your head is a start. If there is nothing in your head than look around you. Make associations or just plain obvious observations (”That man has grey socks”). You made it across!
7. MAKE NOISE
Talk, yell, laugh, screetch, whistle. Pretend you are on a game show. Or not. Just vocalize.
8. SHED YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC
Pretend you’re a dog, or an autistic, or a circus clown, or an astronaut, or a teenage Britney Spears fan, or a tree. What would they come up with?
9. STEAL FROM THE ENVIRONMENT
Read over that guy’s shoulder. What’s on the bottom of your shoe? Look up. Look down. Look over there. What is that woman wearing? Who’s driving that car? What type of clouds are those? Is it really this late? Keep looking around until something clicks (or your minute runs out).
10. LET GO OF YOUR EGO OR SOMEBODY’S GOING TO GET HURT.
You can be a genius later, right now you don’t have the time. Try to come up with a terrible idea. Try as hard as you can to come up with the worst idea you’ve ever had. If that doesn’t work, then just be obvious.
11. THERE IS NO BOX™.
Fuck it. Break the rules. Do what you want. See if I care.