Where do you get your ideas?

Lynn posted about intelligence and happiness. In the comments, Angus McIntyre said:

Intuitively, I feel that imagination may play a part here, but there’s an open question as to whether the ‘successful’ intelligent person is successful because they generate better ideas, or because they generate more ideas and, crucially, know which ones to pursue. There’s an interesting essay by Neil Gaiman in which he discusses the question of inspiration. If you’re prepared to accept Gaiman as a successful smart person, it sounds like his secret might indeed be that he generates lots of ideas and chooses the best ones.

The essay by Neil Gaiman was published in 1997. It’s not new but it was new to me.

It’s an interesting answer to the question “Where do you get your ideas from?”

Lynn’s post and the comments from it are thought-provoking, too. It’s taken me a while to realize how important the doing is, not just in terms of getting things done, but also for learning what it is to do. Reading. Writing. Photographing things. Creating. For too long I have been under the impression that one has certain talents in some limited areas and that is all one can do well. I now believe I was mistaken — most of what I imagined was “talent” for a given field is in fact a lot of hard work.

It’s easy to forget the hundreds or thousands of hours I have spent learning to develop software and just think I somehow had some talent. Perhaps the things people “are talented at” are the ones that they thought were interesting or fun during the learning. Someone can spend a huge amount of time learning to do something they love without being as conscious of the time passing as he would be trying to learn something he did not enjoy.