• Cara Cilento

Be Your Own Innovation Hub. Tips For Innovation and Ideas

Creativity is not limited to the realm of the arts. In every field, there is creativity. There is creativity in thinking—and especially, creativity in action. Creativity is the driving force behind business and professional innovation. Ideation is the foundation on which we build our breakthrough projects and career moves, whether it's a potential topic for a single blog post or a concept for a whole new line of business. In other words, creativity sparks ideas and then ideas transform into innovation.

Keep Track Of Your Ideas

Ideas, on the other hand, are worthless if they remain stuck in your head—or if you forget about them before they can be implemented. What is the point of an idea if it never becomes the innovation. The development of a system for capturing and organizing your ideas in an easily accessible idea file is critical to success in this endeavor. The more systematic you are in your approach to capturing your ideas, the easier it will be for you to find inspiration for your next project or material for your next pitch. It is your innovation hub.

I had to become extremely disciplined about writing down every single idea I had for a potential story or blog post. My habit of writing down every single story idea, however, soon spread to my personal life as well: ideas for dinner, ideas for outings, and for my kids began to flow like wild rivers (and getting captured). It turns out that my idea file is my single most valuable asset, not only when it comes to pitching editors, writing stories, or blogs or taking pictures but also when I'm home. It keeps everything and everyone inspired and everyone has a refreshed perspective. I have become my own innovation hub.

Inspiration & Innovation

So where do I get my inspiration and innovation come from? Everywhere. I am an observer. I can not think of a place I have visited recently where I did not steal a piece of character or mannerism. Maybe it was a hair toss, or a fuzzy slipper, or the way they exhaled their vape but something from someone made me take note. Granted all of my characters are fictitious creations from my imagination but it’s the human element I abscond from the world around me that makes the character real and believable. That’s not to say characters are not without flaws. They are susceptible to being limited to my perspective, worldview, and collection of experiences. So the more I pay attention to others, the easier it is to create a new character. So take the time to pay attention and listen to other people.

Ideas Flow From Art

I had a wonderful exchange with someone who commented on my social media about art and reading. We talked about the commitment one makes to reading a book versus the immediacy of visual art. We discussed the emotions evoked by the visual arts as well as those evoked by books and how both make such lasting impressions. How many times has something like this occurred to you? Where your ideas pop from the visual? Or could be that you're reading a fantastic book, watching a fantastic show, or listening to some fantastic song by a talented band when an idea suddenly strikes you. Isn't it a wonderful sensation to have? If you ask me, visual art is a particular source of inspiration for me which is why I love to take pictures, especially street art or found object.

Take a walk outside and take a look around.

When all else fails, go outside and observe what is going on in the world around you. If any of you have followed some of my posts, you would know that I talk from my front porch if it’s sunny out or my couch, if it is not. I call them my seat of inspiration versus my couch of contemplation. I have talked about my neighbor’s fence, the fox that lives under it and use my community as my inspiration. My advice is to take a stroll. Take a drive around the neighborhood. Keeping your eyes open will reveal fantastic things to see all around you—things that will inspire you, jumpstart your next project, and solve the most frustrating creative problems you've ever encountered. For example, my neighbor, his fence, and the fox have developed quite a symbiotic relationship. It’s the perfect breeding ground for ideas.

So where do we keep all these great ideas? Like a mentioned before, a file. Or, if you are anything like me, take a picture or write it on a napkin. I know I said I was disciplined in writing down my ideas but didn’t say I was organized. My favorite method however, is the good old fashioned, notebook.

Every time I get a new thought, no matter how nascent, I write it down in a notebook. Usually, I it's the notebook closest to me but sometimes I will open up my phone and type a note to myself. On rare occasions, I'll send an idea text to myself, but I always run the risk of accidentally sending my fleeting thought to someone by mistake. But wouldn’t that be fun? That would open up a whole new page of ideas and hence another notebook.

Keep Organizing

If you are a stickler for organization, you can put all of your ideas into a single, organized digital file. You can scan it and keep all of your ideas together on a drive that is easily transportable and available. You can make a folder of quotes, jokes, pictures, and even insults or controversy. Who doesn’t like a good controversy? Get creative. Use two or three different methods of organization. What counts is that you always have a note-taking tool on hand, and that you're consistent about adding every single idea to your ideas notebook, file, text or whatever you use. Use different ways to organize yourself. Maybe put pictures from a magazine in an envelope and then quotes in a diary. Make your organization method part of the creativity process. It’s well worth it.

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