I get up ridiculously early in the morning. If my gym opened earlier than 5:00 am I would probably be there then too. I also multi-task with relish. I have my iPod on (I still haven’t started listening to the Nature podcast my son likes but I will get there eventually.) I can put my latest read on the elliptical machine book holder and scan a row of televisions usually tuned to the news. (Although, to be fair, TNT does have a block of Angel that starts at 5 or 6, if not Cold Case.)
I can read really fast. When I was a kid my mother taught speed reading for a couple of years and while I never took the course, she did use the testing tools to figure out how quickly I could read and still maintain a high level of comprehension. At the time I read more than a 1,000 words a minute. (Most adults read somewhere around a few hundred.) This enables me to quickly scan lots of information, read several books a week, and, in general, pick up lots of information quickly.
I also use Google Alerts as my personal librarian. “How about this story? Or, maybe this one? Your favorite author has a new book coming out. Oh, you like that story last week on the couple who built an eco-resort in Panama, how about this one?” But there are far more blog, articles, books and stories than I could ever read in a lifetime. (So many books, so little time…)
So, this morning at the gym, I was reading an Inc. taken from the communal magazine rack. After reading about a software firm that offers inventory systems for schools and “How to hire” I turned to the letters column and started reading the letters to the editor. There were several letters to the editor about a Zipcar article. Wait a sec. I remember that article, that was ages ago, how old is this magazine? Turns out it was from May last year. That means that the articles I was reading this morning could have been written as early as January or February 2008, before the free-fall in the economy had truly made its presence known. We’d been in recession but there wasn’t the sense of panic there is today (January 2009.) There was a mention of recession on the cover but not the all pervasive sense you get today. The person on the next machine asked for the magazine when I was done; we had a brief chat about the cover story and I got to hear about what she does for a living.
I walked away from that “input session” with a couple of story ideas for my friends with the inn and resort, an idea for a Tweet, and a blog post (this one, semi-rambling though it is.) I tend to run home from the gym and try to jot down my ideas before they flee my brain like birds on the lawn flee my kids.
Surfing the web also brings me ideas. Going out for coffee with friends. Playing with the kids. Listening to NPR. Lunch-time speakers. (Today the Boston chapter of WIBC has David Meerman Scott as their lunch-time speaker — woo-hoo!) So, I guess my point is, surf the web, yes. But surf life too. Get yourself out. Don’t forget the magazines and newspapers. Or your friends and co-workers and family. Or the person sweating beside you at the gym. Ideas are everywhere.
Where do you get your best ideas?