How to generate ideas and build a system of creativity

Friday, August 4, 2017

How to generate ideas and build a system of creativity


Imagine what would life look like if you always were creating? If you never ran out of ideas? In this episode of the House of Hacks, I’m going to talk about having a creative lifestyle. My wife, Diane, joins me as we discuss how to put together an idea generating and implementation system that empowers your creativity so you can create a habit of being creative and develop a creative lifestyle.

This is the first of a new video content type that we’re calling Maker Musings. These will be occasional episodes where we go meta, get philosophical and talk about the process of creating projects and making things rather than the actual doing.

This is the fourth episode of Vlog Every Day in August 2017 (aka #SSSVEDA2017).

Dan Currier at Creator Fundamentals

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For a written transcript, go to How to generate ideas and build a system of creativity

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at


Imagine what life would look like if you're always creating; if you never ran out of creative ideas. Today at the House of Hacks we're going to talk about developing a creative lifestyle.


Hi Makers, Builders an Do-it-yourselfers.

I'm Harley your host and today we've got my lovely wife, Diane, here as a special guest.

This is the first episode of Maker Musings and in this series I want to talk about making things kind of from a philosophical level. Not getting down into the nitty gritty about how to make things but more about the idea of making things and things that are impediments to making, how to make better, kind of the whole lifestyle of making. So this is the first in that series and today we're going to be talking about having a creative lifestyle. So what are our main points today?

Pretty much we're going to be discussing inspiration and implementation. Basically how to get inspired and how to develop a routine of implementing your ideas.


So, Harley, how do you get inspired?

Well, I think the first idea is have an open attitude. Keep your eyes open. Keep your ears open. So you're always taking in information from places that might serve as a source of inspiration.

So how does that compare with copying what someone else has done?

So the difference between copying and inspiration is where copying is you're just taking an idea and replicating it without adding in your own style, without adding in your own way of approaching things. Whereas inspiration is taking an idea, internalizing it, making changes to it that adapt it to your style, to the way that you do things and then it comes out a little bit differently.

I see. So when it comes to inspiration do you just remain open and to what you're hearing, what you're seeing? Or do you have some kind of internal thought process that develops the inspiration?

I think the first point is to just remain open. Be a sponge and take up a lot of different information from different sources and then after you've taken that up you can kind of think about it and ruminate on it and see how it applies to your particular area of creativity.

OK, because I don't function that way.


I have a hard time with remembering things that I've seen or I just enjoy seeing so many different unique creative things that I get just so inundated with creativity from others that there's just no way I could possibly remember what I saw yesterday or today or whatnot in order to go and make something similar.

Uh, huh. So that's where having a way to record things comes into play. If you have a notebook handy where you can sketch things down or write down ideas. You can also use an app on your phone. You have the Recorder app where you can kind of speak into it if you have ideas. You have other apps in there where you can draw on or... Evernote is another good app, either on your computer or on your phone that will help to... sort of work as a memory source.

So, you get to a point where you've written everything down in some kind of journal form or you have spoken into your phone to record an idea or something like that or maybe you've taken a photo of something on your cell phone to just to remember it. So how do you actually get from a bunch of ideas everywhere to the actual process of being creative?

So, starting up is one of the big hard things for me personally. There's a lot of inertia to starting a new project. I think there are a couple things you can do to reduce that startup inertia. One thing is have a space dedicated for creating in. Whether if you're an artist it'd be a studio or if you're into woodworking or metalworking having a workshop setup. If you're doing video stuff, you have a set that's always ready to go. This allows you to not to have to do a lot of setup before you start creating.

So what happens if you don't have the space to have a dedicated space in your house to do this?

Well, I have travel packs. All of my card making supplies are all in one wheeled tote that I can just take with me either to the kitchen table if I'm working at home or I can take it to a class if I'm not working at home. Or I can take it up into a friends house or something if I go out but it's all there in one space and inside the travel pack I've got my scissors in one pocket. It always goes in that one pocket so that it becomes a visual inventory when I just open that travel case up and the scissors is right there. The specific cutters are over here. The glue is over here and that sort of thing. So I can just take this visual inventory of everything that I've got in my travel cart as long as I keep it in the same place over and over again.

So that kind of segues nicely into the next topic which is reducing the friction to doing. We talked about reducing the friction to starting and then there's also the case of doing where you want to make sure that it's easy to do the creativity that you set out to do. And one thing that I'm really bad about is putting things back in their place. I'll have a tendency to put a screwdriver down and two minutes later I'll go to reach for it and I'll have no idea where I put it. And so the idea that you just brought up about having a place for everything and everything in its place is a great way of making it easier to do as you're doing. If that make sense.

Right. Yes.

I'm reminded of a carpenter with his carpenter's belt and a hammer always goes a certain spot. The tape measure always goes in a certain spot. So, they can actually just use muscle memory to grab something and when they need a tool they just think about it and it's in their hand because they can always go back to the same place to get the same tool every time. So that kind of really helps with making it easier to make things.

Dan Currier has a great quote where he talks about this in general, specifically with video making sets but I think it has a broader applicability where he says what you're doing is "implementing the pedestal once rather than every time so then you can focus on creating the sculpture." And I really like that idea where you get all the background stuff done so then your time, your energy of thought, your energy of doing can be done in creating the new stuff rather than reinventing the background stuff every time.

So that's it for this first episode of Makers Musings. I appreciate you joining us.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!