Inventing is fun and sometimes the yield is a solution that has not been done before. Whether inventing makes a new thing or an innovation of an existing thing, the process of inventing is enriching and rewarding. Inventing strengthens thinking skills, creativity, problem solving, resourcefulness and improves the abilities to apply many other skills to real life situations and things. It is well worth doing.
There are several ways to approach inventing. One way is to start with a problem that needs a solution and invent solutions, products, processes, systems and innovations that improve or solve for that particular issue.
Another way to approach inventing is to start with nothing in particular as a goal, sit with an array of mismatched miscellaneous things and simply starting playing with them until something else is created. Sometimes it can solve an existing problem or provide a solution that is needed and sometimes it creates a non-utilitarian outcome that is unique and interesting. Often this process itself is valuable because it helps the mind to find other solutions and inventions that awaken along the way throughout the process.
The trick in either approach is to capture, not only the end product and enjoy the process of inventing and resourcing that happens, but also to grab those interim ideas, solutions, thoughts, applied knowledge and other inventions during the process. This can be done by quickly writing down a note here and there or by doing video of the process and speaking aloud those thoughts and ideas or by setting aside those interesting interim steps as they are, when they happen as the inventing is underway.
Briefly – To Invent Something –
Step One – Decide to invent something. Set aside the next hour to be involved in inventing something. It can be 30 min. and for that matter, it can be the next break of ten minutes, if the idea generating part of the process is separated from the action steps to play with actual making. It doesn’t require absolute quiet. Inventing does not require zero distractions. It doesn’t need everyone else around you to stop what they are doing and let you invent something.
Step Two – Give merit to some ideas that you’ve had about things that you’d either like to invent or that need an invention to solve them. It doesn’t matter how big an idea it is or how large an issue it solves. Just because you aren’t a bridge builder, doesn’t mean you won’t be the one who comes up with a sustainable, workable solution to some existing problem with building bridges that still exists today. Even small ideas and small issues that creates headaches for everyone are call for solutions and inventions. Some of these are worth thinking about too. Write them down as you think of them. That starts the inventing creative juices and intellectual skill sets into action.
Step Three – Draw on your knowledge and experiences to bring information to the process. If you don’t know something, google it or look it up in the books around your home that you’ve noticed without opening. Drop those books open at the point your hand opens them and see how that information starts folding into the process. Check details on the internet, but don’t get lost in trails of information. Keep referring back to your paper and pencil, tablet doc or video talk it out loud process to get the new info into the mix. Talk into a tape recorder or a facebook live video, if nothing else to get the idea and information flow recorded as the stages of inventing progress. Later these highlights can be used to trail off into other projects, other inventions, resourcing for networks of other possibilities and possibly, for markets once the invention is at the final stages.
Step Four – Put your hands on something. It can be drawing the ideas, writing them down, but even better is to start touching things and trying them together in different ways towards a solution to make your invention ideas come alive. White boards are great, but getting some items from around the garage or attic into a box and fiddling with them is almost magic in the ways it stirs the inventing process. Make sure and write down, photograph, video or record those ideas and interactions with things during this part of inventing – or they will be lost, because they will change and keep becoming something else or something more as the process of inventing continues.
Step Five – Check what you’ve done. Look at what you’ve created, ideated, modified, innovated, invented along this way and start matching how those ideas and inventions could solve certain problems you’ve had in mind at the start. Would they? Or have they solved something else that you had not really thought of directly but it could do that? Have there been nifty, interesting creations and inventions from throughout the inventing process that could be their own outcome and interest you? These can be either set aside for later or take a moment and decide that there is the direction you’d like to see to conclusion first.
Step Six – Depending on the ideas and inventive avenues you’ve decided to pursue, the next stage of inventing is about making something with those ideas and determining what things from the real world would be required to create it. That can be as simple as determining whether it could be made in wood or metal. And, it can be as complex as looking online to understand carbon composites and where to buy small quantities for creating a prototype of the invention. More drawings help at this point, keep taking notes and recording ideas as they occur. This part of the inventing process is not as mundane as it may seem. The mind will create more solutions here that could also work, will problem solve for lacking access to the exact perfect materials by accessing and resourcing options that could work and will create ideas for getting your hands on materials or pieces of other machines and salvaged or reclaimed things that could be used to make you invention or innovation.
Step Seven – Go create the damn thing, if you haven’t already. Create the inventions and solutions that have come along in the stages of inventing too. Make them. Build them. Invent the same thing again and take one of the other avenues you had considered to see where it leads and how it approaches the problem solving in a new or different way. It will yield surprising and often, astonishing results as your mind draws on the previous experience to refine the invention in new ways. Build a prototype and make drawings either by hand rendering or on the computer using things like SketchUp and drawing apps. Save the interim sketches and ideas as you use those, by the way – and then continue modeling and rendering. Those interesting elements at various stages will remind you of other avenues to pursue as well and serve as part of the inventing process that is extremely valuable.
- cricketdiane, 01-08-18
By the way, check around and there may be a makers space near you where the prototype can be made by you as a member using the tools and resources available there. Most of the makers spaces are reasonably priced and use of some areas / tools / time there if commonly priced ala carte as well as through the membership pkg.
Also check out the Makers Magazine sometime. It is filled with resources for inventing and making.