The Technique for Producing Ideas

“A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Webb Young is a small book with a huge message. 

Are we all capable to produce ideas naturally is there a process that can turn all of us into producing ideas machines? 

Nature vs Nurture

There are some of us that seem to have a natural tendency of finding solutions and have innovative ideas. 

There are others, less fortunate, who seem to struggle with finding ideas and producing solutions. 

No matter what category you find yourself in, note that only practice can chisel an already existing talent or can develop and nurture a learned skill. 

There are, of course, some people, who cannot be helped by any technique whatsoever. Content with their existence, even the thought of searching for a new idea will never cross their minds. They will never know what they are capable of because they don’t even bother to ask.

“A technique for producing ideas” is a useful tool whenever we are at a loss for solutions. 

            Whether choose to apply the technique or not is totally up to us.

Whenever a new theory is advanced, what we need is the basic definition and the method of application.             

The technique advanced by James Webb Young has both principles and method, simply put the what and the how


        What is an idea as per James Webb Young?


An idea is a combination of old elements

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a newly invented concept.

It can be the ability to combine already existing ideas in a new way.

In order for us to arrive at new ideas, through a combination of old elements, we need to nurture a capacity to see relationships, even where, apparently, there are none. 

Some ideas are seen in isolation, as an island, secluded and torn away from everything but equally beautiful in their own nature.

Other ideas are more powerful when they form relationships with other ideas, other areas of life, another uncharted territory.


The first stage of the process is to gather ideas 


Gathering ideas

  • means to gather as much information as possible. The information can be either specific and general.

For advertisers, the specific material refers to the product and the consumer. Tedious work, at times, that the marketer tries to avoid or seldom truly works at it. However, going beyond the surface is where the true reward lies. Untapped ideas, gems just waiting to surface and be brought to life.

For others outside the field of advertising, gathering the specific material can be anything that helps you come closer to a solution. Say you are a writer and you need to research as much information for the new topic you are writing about. One source of inspiration can be the library, but stopping only at a library can mean passing on a lot of great information right at your fingertips. You can study people, you can conduct interviews, you can read magazines, newsletters, everything and anything connected to the topic. 


The general material

 refers to everything surrounding you, whether it is modern art, ancient burial rituals, life events, paintings, music… Your trait should be a genuine interest in everything you come into contact with.

Gather as much material as you can, independently or together. Stack it, store it, file it, write ideas next to it. Pictures, articles, photos, memories, anything, and everything.

Eugene Schartz, the greatest copywriter of all times, was a man in constant search of general material. Besides the fact that he was constantly obsessed with what the market was interested in, he had an innate sense of curiosity. Curiosity leads him to read anything about everything and collect the material. Then, whenever he had to write a copywriting piece, he would refer to all his notes, to his material, and he would come up with the best possible piece. 


“The Mental Digestive” Stage

brings us back to our gathered material. Now we read again, go through them, in no specific order. Take them apart, bring them together, combine them, use them to the point of exhaustion. At this moment it is imperative that you write down your ideas. Use whatever you think works for you.



Drop the process altogether

Get attach from it all. Go and do something else. Take a walk, listen to music, whatever makes you feel good. This is the step where your unconscious mind takes over, masticating, digesting everything you have put in.

You have put all the ingredients inside the mixer. You have shaken it. Before you open up the lid, you leave it for a minute for everything to cool down, settle in. Now you are ready to pour the liquid.


The Idea

 Coming out of nowhere as if sneaking up on you. Be ready.

It’s not going to let you know when it’s coming. Have a notebook by your side. Write it down. In the form it presents itself.


Getting a new perspective

 You are ready now to show your idea to the world.

Sometimes your idea might not be as good as you thought it was.

Sometimes, somebody offers thoughts and insights you have overlooked. Shape the idea. Develop it. Turn it inside out. Watch the result.




“A technique for producing ideas” is at everybody’s fingertips.

The process is quite simple once you get the hang of it.

Use it at work, or in any environment, you find yourself into. 

You don’t have to be an advertising man or woman to test the technique.

That’s the beauty if it. 


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The technique of producing ideas


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