Did you ever wonder how some people seem to be able to come up with new ideas? People who "invent" things and creative people do this all the time. But how do they do it? Do they have some sort of gift? How did the idea for Alphabeticks come about - did it come out of the blue or was there some sort of logical process behind it. Well, actually there is a secret behind getting ideas. We recon we're pretty good at this anyway, and have had our own theories for some time. Now, we want to share them with you.

OK, firstly this creative process is not in itself a gift but some of us are lucky enough to stumble across it and then keep using it. There is though one quality that you must have before you can come up with ideas - you must be able to let your mind have free reign to think about things which leads to having a natural curiosity - why does that happen, how does that happen, what would happen if I changed this for that...... There are few subjects that such people do not become interested in and they tend to spend lots of time browsing the web just jumping from one thing to another.

The bad news is that probably only 20% of us have that in-built curiosity naturally. If you are not already in that group, the good news is that up to 30% of the remaining people can aquire the ability to come up with ideas by following the simple set of guidelines that we'll show you.

The most important thing to realise is that the vast majority of ideas are not entirely new at all - they are actually a new combination of old elements. Which means that to create new ideas you have to take some existing things and combine them in a new way. In other words to create new relationships. With that in mind, let's look at the five steps to get new ideas:

STEP 1. Gathering The Material

This is the part that demands the effort and the bit that most of us don't want to know about. Interior designers don't just dream up that great new room design - they painstakingly collect samples of fabric and paint. They have scrap books of other designs that have caught ther eye. They make up sample boards of their ideas - seeing how this fabric goes with this paint. So, collect all the material you can about the subject you want the ideas about, and make sure you can remember them - something that will come easily if you are interested in it. Spend time being curious - go off at tangents - circle round things - let things catch your eye. The web is perfect for this and for most of us is our main research tool. Written notes or URLs of relevent websites are a must here.


In simple terms, this step means you spend a lot of time thinking about the material you have gathered and what you want to achieve - if you know what that is, and it's by no means essential that you have well-defined goals in mind. See all the things you have collected as pieces of a jigsaw - try putting them together in different ways. While you are doing this, it will occupy your entire concious thought process, so you must learn to switch off from everyday thoughts. You'll probably have some jumbled half-ideas - make a note of them before you forget. Think hard and for a long time - thinking is hard but rewarding. You may want to gather some more material during this process as your mind takes you to areas you weren't prepared for. You'll need somewhere to think - not easy in our busy lives. Long baths are a great place to think - or perhaps when driving long distances. Like all the great thinkers, you have to realise that thinking is a solitary job.


Yes, this is the time to put the whole thing out of your concious mind. Switch off. Go watch a movie, put on the Mozart or the Springstein. Read a novel. While you are doing this, everything you have done is being transferred from your concious mind to your unconcious mind, which is where the real work is going to be done. Make sure you don't think about your material any more - keep your mind occupied. Then get a good night's sleep.


Now, if all has gone well, one of more germs of ideas will appear as if from nowhere - with any luck the very next day. Make a brief note - don't loose it now. Think about it more - could this work - how would it change if you combined it with some other idea or something you saw or read about. Test the ideas in your mind and see how you could change or improve them. More solitary thinking time here. Keep making scribbled notes, it's so easy to forget a flash of inspiration and it may never return.


You will by now hopefully have the germ of one or two good ideas. But they will be raw. Will they work? Are they feasible? How can I test them? This is the time to shape the ideas. Try them out, live with them for a few days in your mind, then start putting them into reality - whatever that is. Tinker with them, putting them away if they don't seem to work because your mind will be working on them and will come up with answers to difficulties if you let it. Alphabeticks was born this way - a combination of an inspiring A-Z book, of a simple web site design, the desire to tell the world about some of the things that we have found and that are important to us, and the feeling that many more people would like to do the same. Just a new combination of old things.

So where does Serendipity fit in?

Ah, well serendepity is when just the right combination of things happen by chance and something good happens or a new idea is borne. Sometimes it happens when the things we describe above have actually occured almost without you knowing. But in most cases it is this thing about curiosity and exploration that leads us down these lucky paths. The knack here is to let it happen. But rather as good luck is had by those that plan, so serendipity occurs more often to those who gather their material!

Good luck with your ideas - may they be a source of great satisfaction to you.

Serendipity of the Alphabet