Sometimes people ask me, "where do your ideas come from?" I just smile and shake my head and say, "From my brain, ya silly." Then after I'm done being such a smart-alecky jerk, I take a deep breath, put on my serious face and respond, "It's a little something I like to call ... (dramatic pause followed by an equally dramatic whisper) ... PROCESS.
My process has changed a bunch in my time at the Brandcenter -- you could say it's been a bit of a...you know...process. When I first got to school, I would brainstorm for a couple of hours, lock onto an idea I liked, and then spend the rest of my time on that one thought. Then, in our second semester, our freaking awesome professor Mark Fenske taught us the principle of QUANTITY, i.e. that the "process" of thinking up as many ideas as you can, inevitably leads to QUALITY.
So -- this is how I do ma thang.
First, I sit down with a big sheet of easel paper (see below) and write everything that comes to my mind regarding the product or service I'm focusing on. I try not to judge the ideas, just let them come, total firehose, stream-of-consciousness style.
These big ol' legal pads work well too.
Also: occasionally it's nice to mind-dump on a computer. I like minimizing the document window so I can't even see what I'm writing, then turning on some music and just typing like a crazy person. It's fun and liberating and often hilarious to look back at what I've written. Which leads me to ...
Editing!!! This is the long, tedious and occasionally euphoric "process" of picking through the wreckage of page after page of what sometimes seems like pure nonsense -- searching for gold. I'll then make a long list of anything I think is halfway decent, headlines, paragraphs, scripts, and share them with my A.D. buddy bud.
To sum up, this is where my ideas come from! Hours and hours of thinking, writing, editing and sobbing that hopefully leads to something I'm halfway proud of.
Postscript: I should add that creative thinking by definition doesn't fit into a box or flow out of a formula. More often than not, inspiration comes out of nowhere. But process still plays a part. As David Ogilvy once said, "Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process."