10 Ideas for How to Get Some Damn Ideas

Last November I took on the challenge to post an episode of QuOTeD every day for the month. My friends Dave and Megumi also participated in National Podcast Post Month (NaPodPoMo). On By the Bootstraps, Dave talked about idea generation and asked listeners about where they get their ideas. I just discovered a response I scribbled down at the time and thought I’d share it here. Sorry for the late reply, Dave. But here it is.

Some Ideas about Some Ideas

    1. Recognize the ideas you already have. Ideas float by all of the time. Notice them and keep a notebook.
    2. Define and guard quiet times. Instead of listening to NPR in the morning or popping in the earbuds on the train, experience the ambient noise. Be in the environment.
    3. Guard “the boring bits”, as Sherry Turkle calls them in her book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. The time you spend waiting to get an oil change doesn’t have to be filled with Facebook and the rest of it. Daydream instead.
    4. Yeah, daydream.

This page is blank. Where do the ideas come from when you're looking at a blank page?

    1. Read. Read anything. A novel. Trash. The paper. Just make sure it’s a linear experience without hyperlinks. The next distraction need not be a click away.
    2. Take a walk every day. In her podcast, Life Gets Better Now, Mary Hayes Grieco said something that helped me understand why I generally feel better when I walk. She said (roughly) people experience their intuition in different ways. If you’re a kinetic type, you need to move to get the juices going.
    3. Mine your social media feed. I know, I know. I said ditch it. But if you can contain it, Facebook posts might generate some ideas. Be careful. Facebook is also linked to feeling depressed.
    4. Sit down. Be still. You don’t sit down because you have an idea for a novel. You get an idea for a novel because you sit down. This goes back to guarding quiet time.
    5. Practice observing. I like to write about what I see. After a shift of waiting tables, I liked to sit at the bar with a notebook. But maybe you’d rather paint. I tried to learn how to draw a cat by watching a tutorial on YouTube. My cat turned out pretty good. And I learned to notice details about my own cat that I didn’t see before.
  1. Give yourself some structure. For NaPodPoMo, I decided to incorporate clips from old cassette tapes. I also ended every episode with a question, which is consistent with my usual podcast. By putting some rules around my project, arbitrary though they may have been, I don’t have to wander around in no man’s land.
  2. Challenge yourself. This list is a case in point. I was challenged to come up with 10 ideas. In other words, not every challenge has to be Mount Everest.
  3. Invite engagement. Interact with people. QuOTeD is all about engagement whether I am talking to individuals or hosting an open mic.
  4. Be in the world. Leave your house… without your mobile device. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but it can’t be said enough. If you’re feeling annoyed… Well that’s some information, isn’t it?
  5. Find your internal motivation. If you can’t find the internal motivation to do something, maybe the challenge needs tuning. Or maybe you need a different challenge.
  6. Experience the new. In The Charge Brendon Burchard talks about incorporating the new into our routines. This can be a big deal, for example, a trip planned months in advance. Or it can be simple. Try walking down an unfamiliar street, for example.
  7. Pound on the piano. I don’t play the piano but I play the piano.
  8. Bounce a ball. Shoot some hoops. You’ve seen a gym, right?
  9. Do something else. When you hit a wall, clean the bathroom. At least get something out of the day even if you’re creatively stuck. Warning: Do not confuse this with taking up any distraction, such as surfing the Internet. Be discerning.
  10. Poke at the Universe. Experiment. See what happens.
  11. Do more. When someone asks you to come up with 10 ways to generate ideas, make it twenty.

I Do Not Consume Podcasts

Could we just say what we mean? Do we mean ‘consume’ or ‘listen’?

by Rebekah Smith

Question of the Day When I had a college radio show the station manager would scold us for using insider lingo on the air. “Say ‘Public Service Announcement’ and not ‘cart'”, he would insist. Carts were these boxy looking tapes where the PSAs and other promos lived. You could easily jam them into a player, sort of like an 8-track tape, which made them ideal for these short bits. Today as more and more jargon infiltrates the language, I wish there were a staff meeting where someone would stand up and say, “Stop doing that! You sound like an idiot!”

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