Where do Ideas come from?

While reading Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography, I came across a very interesting paragraph about ideas. He says that people asked him several times, about how did he get all the ideas to make movies. But he never had a satisfactory answer to that. Chaplin says, “……ideas come through an intense desire for them; continually desiring, the mind becomes a watchtower on the lookout for incidents that may excite the imagination—music, a sunset, may give image to an idea.
I would say, pick a subject that will stimulate you, elaborate it and involve it, then, if you can’t develop it further, discard it and pick another. Elimination from accumulation is the process of finding what you want.”

However, he impresses profoundly, when he says, ” How does one get ideas? By sheer perseverance to the point of madness. One must have a capacity to suffer anguish and sustain enthusiasm over a long period of time.”

Well, most of this, we have heard elsewhere in one form or the other. The only reason, why I wanted to share this is because, it comes from one of the most creative geniuses of the human history. Economics tells us that access to unique information creates an advantage. But advancements in technology have nullified this information advantage. It’s hard to retain unique information about anything. Hence, ideas and ability to generate them have assumed much greater importance as sources of advantage. This is where most of us are struggling. Be it movies, literature or business, being original is the biggest challenge. The fastfood lifestyle has had a detrimental effect on our patience and attention spans. Hence, the reliance on sequels, imitations, copies, and adaptations. The key to victory is,  as Chaplin would say ‘perseverance to the point of madness’.

(Thanks Prof. Lee Hansen for suggestions and precise quotes from the English (original) version of the autobiography)


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