A Technique for Getting Ideas

By James Webb Young

Prefatory Note
How It Started
The Formula Of Experience
The Pareto Theory
Combining Old Elements
Ideas Are New Combinations
The Mental Digestive Process
"Constantly Thinking About It"
The Final Stage
Some After-Thoughts


These thoughts were first presented to graduate students in advertising of the School of Business at the University of Chicago, and later before several gatherings of active advertising practitioners. This accounts for the informal tone. The subject is properly one which belongs to the professional psychologist, which I am not. This treatment of it, therefore, can have value only as an expression of the personal experience of one who has had to earn his living by producing what-were alleged to be ideas. It was first prepared one Sunday afternoon when I had to consider what I should say to a Monday class. No literature on the subject was at the moment available; nor had I any recollection of having seen any. Since then I have discovered that Graham Wallas in his Art of Thought has a chapter on this process of the creative thinker. In it he arrives at, somewhat the same conclusions as here given. But as Prof. Wallas' book is now reported out of print,* and as what follows has seemed to have a particular usefulness for workers in advertising I , am emboldened to publish it.

James Webb Young