Producing Ideas: Leading Principles
  • An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.
  • The capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships. The habit of mind which leads to a search for relationships between facts becomes of the highest importance in the production of ideas. And this habit of mind It's something that we ca cultivate.
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A Technique for Producing Ideas

by James Young

What is most valuable to know is not where to look for a particular idea, but how to train the mind in the method by which all ideas are produced and how to grasp the principles which are at the source of all ideas.

James Webb Young

"You will find that a good idea has, as it were, self-expanding qualities. It stimulates those who see it to add to it. Thus possibilities in it which you have overlooked will come to light."

Ideas Are New Combinations

An idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements.

All ideas follow a five-step process:

  1. The gathering of raw materials—both the materials of your immediate problem and the materials which come from a constant enrichment of your store of general knowledge.
  2. The working over of these materials in your mind.
  3. The incubating stage, where you let something beside the conscious mind do the work of synthesis.
  4. The actual birth of the Idea—the “Eureka! I have it!” stage.
  5. The final shaping and development of the idea to practical usefulness.

It is such a terrible chore that we are constantly trying to dodge it. Instead of working systematically at the job of gathering raw material we sit around hoping for inspiration to strike us.

The materials which must be gathered are of two kinds: they are specific and they are general.

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