I try to keep track of when inspiration hits me. If I am exercising or driving or reading or running when the idea comes, I make a note of it. If I could find a pattern to when I have my best ideas then maybe I could hot wire the system when I need it. Wouldn’t it be great if you had this kind of control over your mind? Knowing that you had to come up with a solution to a tough problem, you could just follow 5 easy steps.
Step 1: Skip breakfast.
Step 2: Take a 15 minute nap immediately after eating a chicken nugget value meal from McDonalds.
Step 3: When you wake up, surf the internet for rare b-sides from your favorite musician. Burn a cd of your new music and play it in your car while you drive.
Step 4: Stay up an hour later than you normally do and set your alarm for an hour earlier than you normally wake up.
Step 5: Wake up as normal, hitting the snooze twice, then take your daily shower. As you are washing your hair the solution will come to you. Guaranteed or your money back. Lather, rinse and repeat.
Do you have any routines or tricks that help you find inspiration? In reality we have very little control of when inspiration will hit us. After building Font Burner last year I went through several months of waiting for my next idea. All I could do was wait. I couldn’t force myself to think of something. My sketchbook, where I document my ideas went practically unused for most of the summer.
The idea for Phone Feedr came to me as I lay in bed around midnight. It kept me up for hours and I had the whole site completed in my mind by morning. All that was left was the execution. Since then I have felt like I am in a zone. One idea connects to another. Ideas that have been dormant for literally years have resurfaced thanks to a new insights. My sketchbook is active again and I feel like I have to write things down for fear of forgetting them. No joke, I had a dream that I was working on a website for work. In my dream I had added a feature that hadn’t even crossed my mind while I was awake. The next day I remembered the dream, and thought, “Wow, that is actually a pretty good idea.
I don’t want to sound like I some kind of a genius or anything. Most of my ideas are crap and I won’t know it until some time in the future when I can look back at them with objectivity. But that doesn’t matter. The thrill of creating something is my drug. There isn’t a better feeling than being in the zone, having ideas that build off each other.
So as I sort through my ideas and try to carve out time to pursue my projects I find myself sleeping less and working longer. This is another chance to try to find a pattern to my productivity. How does sleep affect the equation? Too much sleep and I am lazy and unambitious. Too little sleep and I am impatient and easily distracted. But at about six and a half hours of sleep I am on fire. My brain is dulled just enough to make connections that a fully alert and rational mind would skim over. It lingers on the thoughts a little longer, in slow motion, spinning them around and remixing them. For the visual graph-lovers out there, it looks something like the graph on the right. There is a sweet spot of sleep where creativity peaks. I have a feeling that this is the same reason why some people use drugs.
So I am looking forward to finishing some of these ideas up and sharing them here soon. I have a couple WordPress plugins in the works. I also plan on releasing some WordPress themes. I have a significant improvement to Font Burner on the way. Some iPhone related things, and some refinements for Phone Feedr. I am really excited about it all. Better get back to work.