A Curious Outpost

Three Characteristics of a Good Idea

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If you’re anything like me, you come up with more ideas for creative projects than you’ll have time to do in your whole life.  So it’s helpful to have a way to measure them up and try to decide if they are good ideas, or just fun to think about.  Here’s three characteristics of a good idea that you can use as a lens to consider which of yours are worth pursuing.

In one word each, the three characteristics of a good idea are:

  1. Method
  2. Freshness
  3. Meaning

Let’s break these down a bit.

The first step is to consider the methods you’ll need to use to pull it off.  Can you envision the chain of events you need to follow to get from concept to completion?  If you can’t see a way from start to finish, you need to think about whether or not the idea is even possible.  It’s also important to make sure every step you put into your plan has a purpose, and that you aren’t just doing things for no reason.  If you need to have some chaos in your plan, as a step along the way, that’s a legitimate move, but it probably won’t work if the whole plan is just random action.

The second consideration is the wellspring, also known as the freshness factor.  Your idea doesn’t have to be original in the context of the entire world – there’s so many people, it’s impossible to be fully sure if anything is 100% original, and chances are, if you’re thinking about something, somebody else, somewhere, is too.  It should be fresh within the context where you hope to share it, however.  This could be mass media, or as focused as bringing something new to your family, friend group, or your band.  If you aren’t paying attention to the freshness factor, you might just be an echo.  A lot of good ideas come – like folk music or sampling in electronic music – involve reworking something that happened before in a new way.  If somebody else is already doing your idea, maybe your freshness can from doing it better, or from a new perspective.  Growth is key in creative endeavors.

The third factor to consider is meaning.  Is it meaningful to the audience where you’re going to show it?  Who even is the audience?  If somebody takes the time to take in whatever you put out there, what do they get out of it?  Do they get inspired or motivated?  Do they learn something?  Do they feel like you told them a secret?  If your creative idea has to do with raising awareness for a cause, are people going to care once they become aware?  If your idea doesn’t have meaning, it might just be an inside joke.  Maybe your individual sketches, free-writes, or jam sessions don’t mean anything specific, but they are still important ingredients when you are making a bigger project.  The big idea has to mean something.

Let’s sum these up:

  1. Is there a method to your madness?
  2. Is it the wellspring, and a source of freshness?
  3. Is it meaningful to the audience you’re aiming for?

If your idea hits all these marks, you probably have a good idea, and you should probably do it.  If you have a good idea right now, leave a comment below – I would love to hear about it.  If you have an idea that’s missing one of these points, leave that in the comments, and maybe we can work it out!

Those are this week’s three characteristics of a good idea.  If you want to stay in the loop, go to the top of the page and sign up for the email newsletter, I’ll send you a little message once in a while.  Not too often.  If you’re not into the newsletter scene, you can find me on Instagram or LinkedIn .  Thanks for checking in.


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April 11, 2020 11:47