Where do I find ideas?

A magical lake where the water is so rich it's sweet.

Two friends went to their first meeting with an investor. They were developing an App and needed some money to quit their job and focus entirely on it. When they met the investor, he asked if they are both developers. The answer was no. So he asked them what is the role of each in building this application. One of the guys said, well I'm no developer but I came up with the idea. The question that followed offended the idea guy.

When I started this blog, I asked the question "what do you do when your idea is taken". If you read any of my articles, I always talk about how ideas are nothing if not followed by hard work. But one thing I never talked about is where to find ideas.

The cure to writer's block is not some sort of magical pill that instantly gives you something to write about. Motivation may help you continue working, but there is something else that gives you the initial boost. When you are on ground zeroes staring at a blank screen, canvas, silence, how do you start?

Well, you need an idea.

If you want great ideas, find a 7 years old off the street. They are spewing with ideas. — Feng Zhu

That is one answer. But most of the time, the 7 years old and I have different taste. Their ideas always involve some dinosaurs of some sort. Still a great idea, look at what Steven Spielberg did with it.

But for the rest of us looking for a modest idea to make something interesting, whether it's a small game, a song, a movie, an essay, or a tutorial, getting ideas on your own is much easier than you think.

As weird as it sounds, if you don't know what to write about, the best way to get started is to start writing. Anything, it doesn't matter.

If you want to draw, staring at a blank canvas is not gonna help either. You have to start scribbling. How did Da Vinci start the Mona Lisa? With a single stroke.

Even in programming you will deal with the same problem. I hear a lot of people talking about knowing how to program but not knowing what to do with their skill. Should they do a social network? An application? A brand new idea? Each of those have their own challenges and going round robin on just the ideas is the best way to kill time, not the best way to get started.

To get started, you open your code editor and start building a CRUD app. When you have a crud, you can start adding features. Make the whole window flip if you have to, as long as you are building something. Make the mouse pointer be affected by gravity. Along the way, you will end up with a physics engine, then you will build Grav Mouse: The mouse that gravitates.

Contrast is an independent game that I recently discovered on the PlayStation. It was born entirely by accident. A programmer, playing around coding on his computer, created a dark silhouette like character. When this character was too close to a wall, it looked like a shadow. He liked this idea, so he decided to make the character turn into a shadow you can control when you get too close to a wall. When his peers saw it, they liked it too. Off of that feature, they made a beautiful game with a story, multiple characters.

They didn't have an idea to start with, they had a feature. A single feature that ended up turning into an entire game.

When the makers of Reddit pitched their original idea at Y Combinator, it was rejected. The idea still didn't make it as of 2015 but I think they are doing just fine.

So when you are building your generic application or website, it doesn't matter that you have no million dollar idea as long as you are working. Sometimes the idea comes along the way not in the beginning.

Ideas are born in the middle of your work. If you find that you have have zero idea, that's because you are bored. And boredom is for the consumers, not producers.


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