How to Get Ideas - Jack Foster with Illustrations by Larry Corby
How To Get Ideas100
This is a fun book to read and I’m sure was a fun book to write.

Jack Foster confesses in the opening pages that there is no rocket science enclosed within its pages, and perhaps nothing new. In one sense he is correct, and his liberal use of quotation, some of which span the centuries, underline the timeless nature of the principles he describes. Indeed like much good advice, he is telling us much that we already know, if only we take the time to stop and realise it. Sadly the reality is that we seldom do.

Here is perhaps the secret of the book. Jack writes in an engaging style which invites the reader to take a moment out from continuously doing what they do. The style of the book and its length, you will read it easily in two evenings, invite the reader to allow themselves to be reminded that they already know how to have ideas, and have simply lost the habit, and need to refine their skill.

In essence the book outlines five steps. Define the problem; Gather the information; Search for the idea; Forget about it; Put the idea into action. As I said, no rocket science, but the book explores each step in concise and inviting chapters which bring focus to the process without labouring the points. Among other things you’ll learn how to be courageous and curious, how Einstein equated his ability to being mentally retarded and thinking like a child, and the importance of fun.

The careful use of quotations expands the imagery of the ideas as do the personal anecdotes and gathered stories. In addition there are lists of prompts to get each of the steps of the process working for you.

Some of the anecdotes naturally relate to Jack’s background in advertising, but don’t be put off. These do nothing to diminish their value to all of us who seek to see in new ways and do new things.

As a taster, think of the question “What is half of thirteen?

How many answers have you got?

The book stops at 23 answers, but having read it, I guarantee you’ll double this and know that you can double it again.

This is a good fun read and will remind you of all you know about having ideas, and help make these magical events less infrequent.

Steve Unwin
November 2006.