This book was recommended to me by someone. He said it was a really good book on how to get ideas. The title of the book couldn’t have been straighter forward: It was Jack Foster’s new expanded edition of How to Get Ideas.
First published in 2007, this how-to book is designed to help creators and innovators in all professional work fields in existence come up with new and unique ideas, in the midst of a brain freeze and/or mal-functional thinking process.
It’s interesting how this book is laid out. Ten of the chapters are dedicated to ways on how to, as Foster puts it, “idea-condition” your mind.
Advice ranging from having fun with what you’re doing to being more like a child, from learning how to embrace failure to breaking the rules, encourages the reader to see their idea-gaining struggles in different perspectives and re-entering the thinking process with a better sense of what is being done.
As for the remaining five chapters, those were dedicated to the process itself on producing ideas. These chapters were helpful as each one steadily broke down each step, analyzing and giving suggestions to go about it.
Chapter 13: Search for the Idea was particularly gratifying in my opinion, especially when it came to the little story Foster told about how he had a group of students come up with several answers for what is half of 13.
Foster quoted and gave examples of how people before our time went about with their ideas; such as Christopher Columbus sailing off to the New World and Thomas Edison’s powerful acknowledgment of never giving up with his quote,
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
At the same time though, that’s what also appeared to be slowing down the pacing of the book.
Quotes at the beginning of each chapter, pages dedicated to one sentence examples, it was a bit much; almost to the point where you want to say, “All right! I get it already!”
Another thing I noticed is whenever Foster would discuss real life examples from his own life or that of his companions and colleagues, they always tend to be hailing from the cases of creative arts professions such as advertising, painting and writing.
While I understand that Foster’s background as an advertiser is the reason for the excessive amount of examples from that field, it would have been interesting to read elaborate examples from other fields; such as that of a therapist, or a fitness instructor, or an engineer or something along those lines. This book is supposed to appeal to people of all professions, right?
However, despite these particular flaws, it doesn’t make it any less inspiring. If anything, it was a very inspiring read indeed.
When it came to praising the renowned animation director, one aspect of his style that the Disney producers emphasized on was his attention to detail on how children act, what they notice and how they think- which is a perfect state of mind since the protagonist of the movie is a 10-year-old girl.
At one point, Jerry Beck, an animation historian, even made the point of saying,
“I don’t think he’s ever lost that ability to think and see from a child’s point of view”- a skill that Foster dedicated a whole chapter to in his book.
In addition, there were also several points in the feature where Miyazaki has served as inspiration for employees at Disney.
In fact, John Lasseter, the executive producer of the English-dubbed version and the head of Pixar Animation Studios, explained how whenever the employees at Pixar are working on a movie and suddenly run into a mental blockage in coming up with ideas, they demonstrate Foster’s tip in “forgetting about it” for a while, go into the screening room and watch and examine a Miyazaki film.
By the time the employees return to working on the movie, they have a whole new set of ideas on how to proceed forward.
So to all creators and innovators here in Newark, if you want to know of ways of how to get ideas from continuous streams of consciousness, then I highly recommend reading How to Get Ideas. The tips and lessons Foster has to offer will truly be beneficial and applicable in the outcome.