Think about it deeply, and forget it

Just think about it deeply, then forget it...then an idea will jump up in your face.
- Don Draper

I’ve always liked this approach to creativity. At some point you need to let your unconscious mind do the work. You can’t just sit there and force an original and inspired idea to happen. You have to think about it, dream about it, let it take root, and then let it go. When you come back to it, your mind will have done most of the hard work figuring out the details, and you can just let it flow.

Doing this also has the side effect of acting as a filter for bad ideas. If the idea keeps coming back to you, and you just can’t just get it out of your head, you know you have something. It’s easy to get excited about a project and jump in without really thinking it through (which I’ve done many times). Once the adrenaline starts pumping, and you start thinking about how huge it’s going to be, you lose all perspective. It’s much harder to step back for a while and give it some space. You may end up realizing it’s not really a great idea, or maybe your original assumptions were wrong, or maybe that it was a fleeting thing and you’re not really that interested in it. Either way, I highly recommend taking the time to figure that out.

I just started the design for a new project that I’ve thinking about in one form or another for a long time, and everything is just falling into place. Doesn’t mean it will be a success, but it does make the process much more enjoyable.

I know that quote is from the first season of Mad Men, but I just started watching it, which turns out to be pretty poor timing.