This article was posted in 01/01/2018 and updated 07/12/2018
I still remember the first days when I wanted to learn to code…
I wanted to code so I can make things. I love building things, and I still do. I believe I had that maker mind from the start. Now, years later, “making things” si the best advice you can give to someone learning to code. For me, I think I was fortunate, or maybe lucky, to have it from the start.
Even with this eagerness to create something new, I struggled to get new ideas for something I can build with code. That thing should to be 1/ easy enough for me to practice my coding skills 2/ don’t take too much time, but also, 3/ solves a problem.
So I started thinking about all this, then came up with some bad ideas at first. But the more I was thinking about getting them, the more I started getting good ones.
Thinking about it now, I believe that in our head, there is a muscle responsible for getting ideas. This of course isn’t scientifically correct, but used for metaphor only. I like to call it the muscle of ideas.
Like any muscle in our body, we need to train it to make it stronger. The only difference here is we’ll train it by producing ideas and not by some kind of workout. Those first ideas will probably be bad, really bad. And that’s normal. If a muscle was resting for a long time, what was you expecting?
If you search online about this subject. You’ll find people talking about some hacks or some ways of getting ideas. A lot of them even suggest coming up with at least 5 or more ideas every day.
It was different for me. I used another process and I’m still sticking to it so far. To train my muscle of ideas, I forced myself to think about a solution whenever I encounter a problem. And believe me, we encounter a lot everyday. We just need to be curious.
One day, I saw a girl in front of the door, looking up and waiting something to be dropped. Her mom was going to drop the door keys from the 4th floor. I still remember her yelling at the girl and saying “you better catch it, I don’t want that keychain broken”. This is a normal day in Morocco, and we’re used to this. But given that I trained my muscle of ideas to respond to this kind of stimulus. I started thinking about a solution to this problem.
My solution was: a simple keychain that works like a parachute. When the keys are falling, the keychain will open like a parachute and decrease the keys speed. So anyone can catch it without being hurt. I’m not sure if this product exist, or if it’s even possible to do it. But for me, it was a solution to that problem. A way of training my muscle of ideas.
Another day, I was doing the groceries. And the problem with groceries is there is a lot of brands. For things I use frequently, I know which brands to pick, because basically I tested a lot of them. But for other things you buy once in months, how I’m supposed to pick?
I started thinking about a solution, and it was very clear that you need input from other customers. A way of displaying all products and make people vote for the best. So when you want to shop next time, it’s easy to choose.
These kind of situations can happen every day. And I’m sure everyone can pick a problem to think about at least once everyday. In the commute, the grocery store, or in home. We just need to be curious.
So if you want to get ideas for your next project, your next talk or your next book. You need to train your muscle of ideas. There is no shortcut. And there is no hacks. There is work. Picking what idea to work on from all those ideas you come up with is a different story. And that’s for another time…
* Header photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash