A Technique for Producing Ideas

dots "Dots Square Paper" by Linnaea Mallette - CC0 Public Domain (https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/)

There is a book I was reading called "A Technique for Producing Ideas" by James Young. I forgot where did I first discover this books. Very slim, straightforward, and practical book.

I was trying to implement this technique myself and it was working for me. I do believe that this technique is working as long as you don't skip every step of it.

I'm sure sometimes you are stumble upon this experience when you are discover new ideas when taking a shower, eating, strolling in the park, etc. That is actually the experience you will get if you follow this technique.

The premise is you just need a right principles and technique (and maybe some time) to produce a great ideas.

The books starts with a solid statement that idea is a new combination of "old things" that connected, has relationship. The term "old thing" that writer wrote means something in the past (material/immaterial). Whether it is material/immaterial, physical or idea.

Then, there is a technique for producing ideas or producing new combination from old things to form such relationship between each things.


  1. Gather raw information (general and specific).
  2. Read and try to understand it. Absorb as much information as you can.
  3. Forget it. Sleep or do other thing.
  4. Ideas will start to come in your brain. Document it no matter it is a partial/complete result of the ideas.
  5. Implement it.

1. Gather raw information (general and specific)

You need to collect the dots, or possible dots, first. You might not know if this dot is important but if you feel the dot is related then collect it. Your brain that will decide whether it is connected to the rest of the ideas or not.

This is kinda make sense step. You need to gather ingredients and tools before you can cook your dishes. You might need some effort to gather all of it but it is required to cook a splendid dishes.

2. Read all the knowledge and try to understand it

This is the step where you need to absorb as much information as you can. You might start to confuse or unmotivated because ideas doesn't popped-up after reading all of this information. Be patient and don't skip this step. You still in the step two.

Most people fall back after/during this step.

I think this is the step where most people give up. They can't bear to absorb more information because, maybe, they are impatient that why the ideas are not coming after reading such enormous information.

Just like cooking. You need to know the characteristic and information of all ingredients and tools before you actually cook the dish.

3. Forget it

A rather anti-climatic step. But this is the step where the magic happens. When you are bloated with all the information you can absorb from the step two, take a break. Take a stroll. Do other things. You can forget it and focus on other things.

Your brain will take all the information and try to connect the dot as a background process. This is also the step where you should be patient because your brain is trying to connect the dots in the background. It might require some times. Just trust your brain.

When cooking, this is the step when you need to sit back and let the stove, the oven, the gas, the heat do their stuff to the tools and ingredients.

4. Ideas will come. Document it.

You wake up from your sleep. Drink a glass of water. Then suddenly your brain come up with some ideas. You are surprised. I was surprised also. That this is actually working.

Now you need to document this ideas. Very important because your brain might drop it.

Now you have discover some ideas, you write that down. You keep it accessible.

I believe that this partial ideas are sometimes also act as an input, the information, for building the more complex ideas later. Make you easier to connect the dot and easier to not forget the ideas.

If you feel that no ideas satisfy your desire you can back to step two and add more information and also re-read the information again. That might be the case when you missing the dot and the rest of the dot graph just doesn't connect.

Now your curry is boiling, changing color, the meat starting to cook, you start checking things and observe.

"This might be need more salt"
"Too much heat, just need a simmer"
"The meat already cooked"
"Need to add some curry powder"

You add things to your curry pot and observe again.

5. Implement it

Now you satisfy with the ideas, it's time to implement it. As the previous step, you might also implement the ideas partially. As time goes and ideas fruit, you implement more ideas on top of, or adjacent, the previous ideas.

Your delicious curry is ready.

I know that the result and time required may vary among peoples.

So, if you feel that you still didn't get it, the "aha moment", maybe that are still some works to do.

I supposed that is because:

  • Need to gather and absorb more information, back to step 1
  • Need to re-read/re-absorb the information (our brain maybe lose focus to more important things), back to step 2
  • Need to re-read the documentary of the partial ideas, back to step 2
  • Need more times as the ideas are rather complex to connect, back to step 3

Trust your brain and believe on delayed gratification.

Read it on Google Play Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/JamesYoung_A_Technique_for_Producing_Ideas?id=xN0-WoTbRgC

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