I can honestly say that I have never had an original idea for a piece of work that has been born out of sitting and trying to think of an original idea for a piece of work. It's just never worked for me - Not once.
Additionally, other creatives that I've approached with this situation also make the resemblance with themselves...
It would seem that by being mentally engaged in the process of trawling through my imagination for an original idea rarely works - if ever!
Recently I sat back and tried to recall the points at which I'd sparked various ideas for my work, and here is what I came up with...
P R O C R A S T I N A T I N G.
I can be a massive procrastinator... BUT, who until recently understands what I relate to as it's "Golden Moment".
This "Golden Moment" of procrastination that I mention is what I now relate to as that split moment of when a miraculous Idea touches down from your imagination into your mind.
My angle on this is that my original creative ideas come from some kind of state of sub-conscience and conscience thought zone. A state of mind which I remain partially engaged in thought (perhaps a rudimentary or instinctive activity) whilst at the same time disengaged from the obvious effort of thinking on subject. It would seem that by being totally mentally engaged with my mind and trying to strike an original idea seems almost like pushing against a whopping great barrier in front of my imagination, preventing it from firing up!
At this point, I did some research and found a super compelling TED talk by Adam Grant that revealed a key habit of original thinkers - Procrastination!
Grant's talk really enthused me to look closer at this unlikely creative process that I'd realised I engage in...
Now, I'm not by any means alluding towards me being some kind of original thinking creative prodigy - not at all. What I am highlighting is this hidden "Golden Moment" of procrastination.
The act of procrastination seems to provide me with that state of conscience activity whilst subconsciously my imagination is firing away on all cylinders, laying down traction to launch myself away from the obvious rational process of creativity of my mind and towards the destination of my next great idea.
Realising that pretty much all of my best work has been born from the mental process of being zoned out from what it is that I'm supposed to be doing, I had an epiphany! What if I could harness this "Golden Moment" of procrastination and use it to my advantage? Yes, exactly! What if instead of poking and prodding my imagination with a long irritating stick in the hope of sparking an original idea; I could be sat reading an irrelevant Facebook article on "5 ways to grow a thicker beard" or be staring out of the window at a sky full of clouds - whilst miraculously sparking my next great project idea... What if!
Sadly, my answer to that is that I don't think you can harness the "Golden Moment". That being a Procrastinator is both a gift and a burden but if you become aware of its creative abilities? Well, you're still a procrastinator! - just a wiser one... Learn to manage it and maybe, just maybe! You could unblock a fountain of original creative thought...
Put down that creative brief and start Minesweeper tournament with your buddy!
"Procrastinating can be a vice when it comes to productivity, but It can be a virtue when it comes to creativity."
TED talks, Adam Grant, organisational psychologist.