Thinking Inside the Box
In his brainstorming process, copywriter Shaun Tan (CS’18) uses the “40 boxes” ideation technique that he picked up from his boss at marketing and advertising agency Tribal Worldwide.
As a general rule, first ideas and thoughts are usually the worst as they lack creativity and insight, shared Tan, who has worked with clients like BMW and the Singapore Bicentennial.
Tan begins the process by writing the big idea on a post-it, followed by a new idea on another post-it.
From there, he explores a problem, topic or issue in different directions until all 40 post-its are exhausted. Ultimately, he would be able to pick the best idea from the pile.
This process is helpful for Tan as he is constantly tweaking and refining ideas through each “box”, rather than staring idly at his computer, waiting in vain for an idea to develop.
Drawing Inspiration from Kung Fu Panda
As the chief executive officer of artificial intelligence solutions company Analytix Labs, Nigel Lim (CS’18), spends most of his time handling data.
Through his experience working in research, he believes that the industry does require the use of creativity.
One challenge that Lim often faces is finding different approaches to present data to clients in a way that is non-technical and visually easy to digest.
So, Lim subscribes to several beliefs when it comes to creative brainstorming — inspired by the animated flick “Kung Fu Panda.”
1. There are no accidents, everything is as it is
2. Don’t dwell on what was and what should be
3. Control over circumstance is an illusion
4. Materialising ideas needs time and patience
In addition to these film-inspired principles, Lim also enjoys going on long walks of 10,000 steps to take his mind off of work.
Because many times, inspiration strikes when one least expects it to, he said.
Filtering through Social Media
A newsroom is a fast paced work environment, and journalists are often strapped for time when it comes to developing story ideas to pitch to editors, shared Jolene Ang (CS’18).
So for the Straits Times journalist, who covers the education beat in Singapore, social media platforms can be a valuable resource.
Aside from receiving direct messages from social media followers for news stories, Ang checks social media on a regular basis to find out what people are talking about.
“[They] have valuable opinions that help with our stories. Talking to them helps me to gain new perspectives for a topic that may have already been covered," she said.
Combing through social media helps Ang to figure out what topics are hot among the public and observe different angles of an issue.
One such example is when she stumbled across an Instagram story talking about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on University examinations.
Penning Down Thoughts as Poems
Independent documentary filmmaker Christine Seow (CS’17) enjoys sitting on the swing at her neighbourhood playground. In the outdoors, her ideas come alive.
She lingers there whenever she needs inspiration — be it coming up with film concepts or figuring out how to craft a script.
Looking at the trees around her is a way of escapism for Seow, after which she jots down her ideas and feelings in her notebook in the form of poems.
The poems allow her to get in touch with emotions — of her own, and also to explore certain moods in others. “This helps me to apply and translate it into film work, especially when I need to invoke empathy among viewers through my films,” said Seow.
She added: “My poems are currently just ideas that I have in my notebook, but of course I hope to one day use them in my films.”