Becoming an Idea Machine

Lists are all around us. We compile shopping lists, Christmas lists, lists of ten great life hacks, and lists of the 6,198 times we laughed in 2018. It’s easy journalistic fodder, just as it is a nice way to stay organized at the grocery store.

Warren Buffett said to make a list of the 20 things you want to accomplish in your life … then promptly cross out the last 15 so you can focus on accomplishing the first five.

James Altucher, with whom readers here are bound to be familiar, swears by list-making. Come up with 10 ideas a day, even if they’re bad, he tells us. If you’re having a tough time coming up with 10 ideas, come up with 20. It’s not about being good ideas (though they’re likely to show themselves).

Here, let’s do it together:

  1. An iPhone app that’ll alert you when there’s a close game on television.
  2. An iPhone app that will scan the face of the actor/actress on screen and it’ll immediately tell you what they’ve been in.
  3. A book about river cities like Pittsburgh or St. Louis and their history, their present, and their future.
  4. A refrigerator that inventories for you, e.g., “You have six Miller High Life’s left” or “You’re running low on creamer.”
  5. Bigger bathrooms on airplanes.
  6. Underwater Hotels
  7. A cross-country road race, with stops at monuments/sports events/etc., televised.
  8. Helicopter paintball
  9. A children’s playplace with a coffee/bar attached … I’d overpay for toddler gymnastics (like we aren’t already) if I got a coffee and muffin out of it.
  10. Better deplaning strategies: Multiple doors/exits, hard-and-fast rules.

This is good practice for (a) just letting your mind work in a creative way, but (b) because, and I’ll do this often, it’s good to write an editor an e-mail with a few different ideas that are fully fleshed out. They’ll be able to see the range of your writing ambitions. Of course, don’t overload them with 46 ideas, but a few might work.

Good luck freelancing today!


And because I missed it Sunday: Happy Hanukkah, 2018.

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