Becoming a Creative Idea Machine

Everyone is Creative.

I think we are all born creative. For some of us, this might seem more obvious – musicians, artists, photographers, etc. – but creativity is about having an idea and creating something from it. We see this take place in businesses that were the raw idea of an entrepreneur, a new logistics system inside an industrial facility, or perhaps a different approach to getting your kids to bed at night without having a meltdown (for you or them).

Creativity is linked to the ability to come up with ideas. This post is all about becoming an idea machine, and strengthening your "idea muscle". The foundation of this concept is from James Altucher's blog. I encourage you to read his thoughts on the process as he offers some great insights.


Here is the premise of the Idea Machine exercise:

  1. Come up with a topic
  2. Write down a list of 10 ideas.
  3. Do this every day.

Let me explain.

Every day, get out a piece of paper or the notes on your phone and write down a topic, such as "10 Books I Could Write", then proceed to come up with the titles of 10 books you could write. Come up with a topic and repeat this every day. It only takes a few minutes, and you should be able to easily work it into your morning routine.

When you first try this you will likely pick a topic that might seem easy to you. However, no matter what the topic is, those first 3-4 ideas come pretty quick in my experience. Ideas 5, 6, 7... those are more difficult to come up with for me. Altucher says if coming up with 10 ideas is hard, you should go for 20. Why? Because you will be forced to let go of the notion that your ideas need to be perfect.

This is an exercise in discipline, quantity, and execution - not quality. Often, the search for the perfect ideas leaves us hung up on our first reflexes. When you start to push through those ideas in the middle (which can often be terrible ideas), you may find that some brilliance lies on the other end.

Applying this to Video Production (or other fields).

I think this is a great exercise simply for the brain-bending benefits, but it can have some practical applications as well. I have used this in my production work and business on numerous occasions. Here are some examples:

  • 10 different opening shots for a video.
  • 10 people I can interview for a project.
  • 10 businesses that can use my services.
  • 10 locations within 10 miles that I have never filmed.
  • 10 ways to close out the video.

Now, when I do this I don't always come up with great ideas, but I do come up with new ideas. Often, one of those ideas makes it's way into a video or impacts part of my business. I have used this while writing scripts, on-location, at the beginning of an edit – basically, anytime I want to get a fresh idea. Another practical piece of advice is to use this to create action-steps. Have an idea for a new business? Write down the next 10 steps to make it a reality.


This doesn' have to be all text! You can do something like this while walking around taking photos, working on a storyboard, or looking for 10 different ways to drive home. Being creative and thinking outside the normal, reflexive patterns is the goal here. I think you get the idea.

You: The Idea Machine

If you do this every day you will become an idea machine. By that, I mean that ideas will come faster and easier than they have ever come before. I admit I don't do this every day, but I did for a while and it had a remarkable impact on my ability to come up with ideas on the spot. I was able to walk into a meeting, and in an instant come up with new ideas in rapid succession. This is the big benefit of the exercise. It is as though your brain gets re-wired and the barrier between your creative subconscious and your conscious thinking mind gets out of the way. Ideas will stream from you.

How long will this take? I don't know. I did it every day for about 2 months and noticed a huge difference. I continue doing it regularly (but not every day). I do think the biggest benefit comes from doing it daily.

Try it out. Let me know how your experience is and if you too become an Idea Machine.