How to Generate 20 Ideas in Twenty Minutes

Listen, I can hear your doubt way over here. It’s possible. I know it’s possible, because librarians live off surprise, spontaneous deadlines. You’d think we’d all be too busy shushing people, right? Nope.

This is how I create a year’s worth of viable programming options. But, first, you have to understand something about creating.

  1. No one creates in a vacuum. Not Picasso, not Bach, no one.
  2. T.S. Eliot once said, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”
  3. Originality may not even be attainable any more.


Take yourself out of your environment. Find what inspires you. I like to immerse myself in sci fi visuals and set my soundtrack. Google Play gives music recommendations based on activities, and sites like ArtStation and Digital ArtLords offer searchable galleries from professional CG artists. My favorite distraction is ambient sounds; I prefer looped Star Trek noise layered over vocalless music. I’d also suggest searching the ASMR tags on Youtube. Autonomous sensory meridian response is a sign of low grade euphoria, and is usually triggered by everyday sounds (like someone writing on paper, for instance). If you are the kind of person who gets easily distracted, there are even apps to limit your time on certain sites.

Google Play is definitely one of my first go-tos.


Pinterest and Craftgawker are sent from heaven. Use them. Try using one theme word (space) and one program word (paint) and see what pops up. Don’t take ideas at face value, either. If a pin makes you stop, figure out why. Is it the colors, size, medium? I find myself thinking about projects I’ve seen before in a new way while I’m immersed in my headspace. Rather than vetting every pin, simply save them and go back to them later. The key to this exercise is simply to find that spark.


That, people, is how I come up with ideas. To prove the value of my method, I blocked twenty minutes this morning and these are the ideas I had:


I actually had about six minutes left when I wrote my last idea down. Some of the ideas are in their very early years, some I could take straight to the next staff meeting.

More Inspiration

NPR Ted Radio Hour: The Source of Creativity

Designspiration  I love this site!

How do you find inspiration for program ideas? I’d love to hear about your process!



Author: Tiffany Fay

I'm Tiffany! I blog about illness, crafting, and share lots of tutorials. And photos of my cats

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