A Technique for Producing Ideas

by James Webb Young


2016 Feb 27


Since its publication in 1965, A Technique for Producing Ideas has helped thousands of advertising copywriters smash through internal barriers to unleash their creativity. Professionals from poets and painters to scientists and engineers have also used the techniques in this concise, powerful book to generate exciting ideas on demand, at any time, on any subject. Now let James Webb Young’s unique insights help you look inside yourself to find that big, elusive idea—and once and for all lift the veil of mystery from the creative process.

Notes & Highlights

With regard to the general principles which underlie the production of ideas, it seems to me that there are two which are important. The first of these has already been touched upon in the quotation from Pareto: namely, that an idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.
The second important principle involved is that the capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships.
The point is, of course, that when relationships of this kind are seen they lead to the extraction of a general principle. This general principle, when grasped, suggests the key to a new application, a new combination, and the result is an idea.

First, 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.
Second, the working over of these materials in your mind.
Third, the incubating stage, where you let something beside the conscious mind do the work of synthesis.
Fourth, the actual birth of the Idea—the “Eureka! I have it!” stage.
And fifth, the final shaping and development of the idea to practical usefulness.

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A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young