"Where you find ideas?" It's a common question, whether you're an inventor, an artist, a songwriter, a poet, a novelist, or a freelance writer. In fact, innovation is the cornerstone of all these and many more professions. I would even go so far as to say that the creative idea should be a staple ingredient in everything, everywhere.

We know that ideas, in the most literal sense, are found in our minds. But what puts them there, and why do people with great imaginations seem to have more ideas than the rest of us? In fact, Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying imagination is more important than knowledge. (A genius would say that - like when a rich person says money isn't important...) While I agree that imagination is important, our mind needs something to use in its imaginings.

Ideas, unless we are regurgitating those of another, must come from within ourselves. That's all well and good, you may be thinking, but how the heck do I get them?

Einstein had something to say about this, as well. "Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure."

It isn't as simple as thinking, "I really need an idea," and then getting the proverbial light bulb. But there is a process that works for me and other creative people.

1. Put knowledge in. Your subconscious mind can't spit something out unless it has something to work with. Learn what others are doing or have done that relates to the project at hand.

2. Focus on the problem or project at hand. Even when you're working with yourself, communication is key!

3. Give it a little time. The whole of your mind (imagination, knowledge, subconscious thought) needs to work together to come up with the solution.

4. Relax! Stress will only hinder you, no matter what you're doing.

5. Do something to distract yourself while you go through steps 3 and 4. Go for a walk, listen to music, do a little exercise. Tasks or hobbies that occupy your hands but leave your mind free can be helpful here.

Mostly, it is now a matter of trusting yourself. Trust and wait - two tasks at which few excel! I know I don't. I can't promise every idea will be a winner - weeding out poor ideas is perhaps the most important step of all. And I can't promise it will work in every instance. Sometimes starting over or repeating the process helps. But it does work. Just try it - what have you got to lose?