Don't Ask Me Where I Get My Ideas

Anytime people ask me where I get my ideas (and it happens all the time) I immediately jump up on a soapbox and explain to them that they're asking the wrong question.

My ideas, your ideas, and everybody's ideas have no intrinsic value, so it doesn't matter where I get them. They are not currency, they cannot be bought or sold, they are, in market terms, worthless. Worthless, that is, until somebody does something with them.

Right now I have several ideas percolating for scripts I should be writing. Those ideas have no value until I actually write the scripts. And in truth, the scripts themselves have limited value until I draw on them, and Travis colors them, and we put them on the web. Eventually those ideas become a product that I can sell, and then they have value.

I have no shortage of ideas. They are like dewdrops, distilling from the atmosphere onto my leafy green brain each morning.  I'm fairly sure your brain is the same way. If you don't think you have any ideas, you probably just need to know how to look for the dewdrops. They're tiny, they're fleeting, but they glisten.

I've been asked time and again how to protect an idea. The answer? Build something with it. Then anybody who wants to steal your idea (note: nobody wants to steal your idea) would have to steal what you built, and that's harder to do. I realize that aspiring writers, game designers, songwriters, inventors, and entrepreneurs do not want to be told their ideas have no value, but the fact of the matter is that until somebody is willing to pay for something, its market value is zero.

I'm not saying this to be hurtful. If you have a great idea, that's very nice. I'm happy for you. It's a good feeling to have a great idea. Turn it into something valuable. Write the manuscript, design the game, sing the song, build the invention, start the business, but above all stop thinking that this idea is going to change the world. Your idea is not going to change the world. You are going to change the world when you take your idea and do something wonderful with it.

Hopefully now you have enough information to ask the right question.