I've noticed my ability to come up with idea lists is not a constant - even though I keep up 10 a day (OK, sometimes less) every day, I know the quality and how much novelty can vary.
1. Is it cyclical?
Ideally, I'd want to track when ideas seem abundant - this morning I used hands-free in my car to tell Google to 'take a note' and put down 3 potential idea lists while driving. How often do these abundant periods come and how long are they? How long are the 'droughts'?
You'd think being well-rested is key, but the truth is I slept poorly last night (my son had a nightmare and slept in our bed). Maybe being sleep-deprived leads to 'crazier', less inhibited thought patterns.
I heard a Charles Bradley song on the radio, and it reminded me of my next Song List (Apocalypse songs) and gave me an idea for a "Neo-Soul" Playlist/Station - which will also be an Idea List.
There are probably studies showing that instrumental or classical music is better for intellectual work, and maybe that includes coming up with new ideas, but I'm going to posit that there's an emotional component to coming up with ideas. Maybe the absence of lyrics or more dynamic, demanding sounds provides something of a void where a new idea can take shape, but I think it's more likely that the images evoked by a story or lyrics will remind us of something that we value and bring out a better idea. The music may have a nostalgic value too, and while we reminisce we think of something that always bothered us, etc.
Are some nutrients better than others at fueling creativity? Pun alert: Literal Food For Thought!
I know I can get into a good mental state while running (I think most steady-state cardio will work). Is post-exercise fatigue better or worse for creativity?
A clean, organized work environment is supposed to be best, but I think of that scene (spoiler alert) in The Usual Suspects - the whole story has been improvised from visual cues on a bulletin board that was in the narrator's line of sight. Can we derive inspiration from knick-knacks and junk, or old notes?
Do I come up with Ideas (that have nothing to do with work) when my workload is very heavy and my mind is looking to escape? Or is it better when I'm working at 'cruising speed'? One's personal life (appointments, errands) can also be a source of stress - how does this inform the ability to be creative?
8. Social Media
Contributes to anxiety and depression, but I'm sure I've had idea lists generated by things I've read on Twitter or elsewhere.
Sure, rock stars use them... I like caffeine (through coffee), but alcohol and cannabis are not something I've really tried to leverage.
I let my mind freely wander when I'm trying to get to sleep, and I'm not willing to jump up and jot down an idea if something came to me, so I don't know if anything good comes from the pre-sleep period. Maybe if I had a pseudo-nap during the day with a journal handy?