Creativity, Let's make stuff, Life
Comments 7

Ideas and how best to tame them.



Where on earth do all of the ideas in the world come from?  Books? Brains? Computers? Instagram? Do you have lots of ideas or do your struggle with the blank page?

I think the blank page stares us all down on a regular basis, especially when there is no brief or stated requirement in place. We all need a starter idea, so what can we use as that beginning? We could add some of these things –

Colour- wash, splash, pattern, dot, dots, cover the page or a corner.

Word-Single, quote, lyric, random, at the top left, in the middle, upside down.

A stripe of washi tape – small, across the page, tiny rips.

A magazine cutting – torn up, cut out carefully, words, pictures, colour.

Any of these should add enough to the most stubborn page to get started.


How come sometimes ideas seem to spout out of the top of my head and I have to spread out my sketchbook net to catch them all before they fly off and yet sometimes, I stare at the page with nothing.

Is it best to try to generate ideas or let them form?  If I have a deadline and I need an idea I tend to let thoughts wander about in my brain for a while, and as they do, I will make some notes. Almost always something will come to me in idea form and I will get going on the project in hand.  If I try and force ideas, wring them out of my head, they are often all contrived and a bit rubbish.  Writing a list which goes on and on just to try and come up with something brilliant invariably comes up short.

Ideas seem most prevalent in the middle of the night or just as I am going to sleep.  When the most effort is required to record them.  I don’t keep a notebook by my bed, I am not that organised, so if an idea slaps me around the chops, I must stagger out of bed and grab a piece of paper and pen and write down my genius thoughts, or draw my amazing new design. This usually sets the idea in motion and I can think on it and get more out of it.

The alternative is to ignore the idea and risk never remembering it at all, or worse, waking up in the morning in the knowledge that an idea struck and it was really good, but with no recollection of said idea.  Another alternative is to stagger and scribble on the closest piece of paper only to look at it in the morning with utter confusion at what I wrote down in the midnight hour (I have done this more than once!)

Where else might ideas strike? –

Leafing through a magazine.

Out walking or running.

Reading a book.


Chatting with friends.

I have just started The 100 Day Project so I am going to need lots of ideas for that.  I am altering vintage playing cards, one a day, so hopefully the idea machine won’t let me down. If you want to follow my progress, I am posting them all on Instagram under the hashtag #100daysofalteredcardsbycatseatdogs.

If you are doing the project drop me your hashtag or Insta name so I can follow along.

Happy idea generating and Happy Wednesday x



  1. Great post! Ah, ideas. At times a flood, at times a dribble. Have you read/ listened to anything by Elizabeth Gilbert. She has all the thoughts about ideas.

  2. RebeccaHJ says

    A really interesting post Clare – I am a bit obsessed about where ideas come from and how best to channel them. I sometimes feel very spiritual about them, like they come to me as a gift, channeling through me. I’m not particularly religious, but I believe in the power of magic and the universe and things coming to us at the right time. Will be checking out your 100 day project – sounds like it will take you on a real journey! xx

  3. RebeccaHJ says

    PS. I do keep a notepad by my bed but just when I need it, I’ve taken it away to type up a previous amazing idea, OR, I just can’t read what I’ve written…how many ‘winners’ have we lost this way?!

  4. Hey Clare, last summer I made and self published a notebook for exactly this problem of keeping and organising ideas. I followed you on Twitter, and if you want to PM me your address (or a ‘safe’ address, whatever) I’ll send you one! I’m giving them away rather than selling them because it’s more fun… 🙂

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