September 30

Free Association

It’s easy to get stuck in your own head and fail to see potential ideas that are just outside your field of vision. This often happens when you become so fixated on solving a problem in a specific way or using a cer- tain set of tools that you keep going back to the same wells of inspiration over and over, failing to leverage your own creativity.

Creativity is the process of connecting dots in a new and unique way. However, sometimes those connections only emerge when you inten- tionally force them to occur. One way to do this is by the process of free association.

Think of a problem that you’re trying to solve. Now, take out a sheet of paper and write the one word that comes to mind when you think of that problem. Then, write the first noun that comes to mind when you think of that word. Then, repeat the process with the new word. Then, again.

So for example:Website (makes me think of…) –> Links (makes me think of…) –> Golf (makes me think of…) –> Funny pants (makes me think of…) –> Clowns (makes me think of…) –> Small cars (makes me think of…) –> Etc.

Once you have two or three dozen words on the page, start forc- ing them together and applying them to the problem you’re solving. (For example, how might combininglinksandsmall carshelp you better reach customers with your new marketing campaign?)

This process can take time, but it will force you to generate ideas you never would have thought of otherwise.

Using free association can help you forge ideas you never would have imagined otherwise.


What project can you use free association on today?

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