When we think of how we come up with ideas, people often refer to the “eureka” moment, that moment where there is a flash of inspiration and suddenly we have a new idea. But new ideas are built off other ideas … it’s cumulative. So it helps to expose yourself to many new things, so nuggets of an idea can begin to build .. and that can take time.
In his autobiography, Darwin said his “eureka” moment for the concept of natural selection was in October 1838 while he was reading Malthus. But years later, as people were studying his notebooks, they found that Darwin actually had hunches about the theory months and months before. He had the concept, but hadn’t fully articulated it yet.
And that’s how great ideas often come about – they emerge over time.
So if you have something lingering in the back of your mind, something you think might be interesting but you haven’t quite figured it out yet, give it time. Your slow hunch may turn into the next big idea.
For a great TED talk on “where good ideas come from”, go to http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_johnson_where_good_ideas_come_from?language=en