Priming the idea pump

I really like Sumana Harihareswara’s post on ‘From “sit still” to “scratch your own itch”’ because she shares great tips for people who don’t feel like they have big ideas of their own. I’ve been learning more and more about building things based on my own ideas. I often hear from people who struggle with coming up with ideas and who don’t feel like they fit in, or who are waiting for that one great idea before they go ahead and explore their dreams. There are lots of ways to get started even without that clear spark, though, and it’s great to read about some things you can pay attention to.

Here are Sumana’s tips and how I can relate to them from my own life:

  1. Embrace boringness. It’s good to know you don’t have to create something new and wonderful all the time. It’s okay to not always be breaking new ground. I spend time writing about everyday things and trying out things that lots of other people have figured out before, like cooking, and sometimes I find interesting ideas along the way.
  2. Embrace silliness. It’s okay to play instead of always trying to solve big problems. Drawing is starting to become play for me, and coding can be fun and silly too. (Like the time I made a smiley-face generator…) One of the things I love about W- is that we can be silly together. The other week he made funny sounds by patting his cheeks, which boggled and delighted me, so I had to go and figure out how to do that too. =)
  3. Find someone else’s pain point. I like doing this a lot. I get a kick out of writing a small tool or creating a script that automates a painful or repetitive part of someone else’s work.
  4. It’s fine to take a class. I’m not as good at doing this because I often talk myself out of spending money on in-person classes and I haven’t really engaged much with online classes. That said, I enjoyed my sewing class, and I learned a lot from my Japanese lessons. Maybe I should give this another try!
  5. Work with scraps. I like doing this with writing. I pick up scraps of ideas from books, blog posts, questions, and experiences, and I combine them into new blog posts. When coding, I pick up scraps of API functionality and write something that glues them together. There are so many good things out there. I could probably spend the rest of my life connecting the dots instead of adding new ones, and that would still be a good life.

If you’ve ever told yourself, “But I don’t have any good ideas!”, you may want to check out Sumana’s blog post:

From “sit still” to “scratch your own itch”