Composers have always had to write music to order: J.S. Bach had to write a new cantata each week; Handel had to write operas and oratorios to very tight time scales; Vivaldi produced concertos hand over fist in order to keep up with demand.
If these composers had waited for ‘the muse to come upon them’ they would have probably starved to death. None of them were afraid to reuse old material in new pieces. When they did get a new idea, however insignificant it might have seemed initially, they would ruthlessly develop and exploit it. They were also very keen borrowers of others’ ideas.
The next time you are asked to brainstorm solutions to a problem think of the following well-known phrase:
'Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.'
Old ideas are always worth a revisit, do not be afraid to explore and recycle them.
New ideas do not always have to be ground breaking or clever, just capable of development.
Borrowing ideas from elsewhere is simple common sense.
The phrase ‘something blue’ at first seems irrelevant here, but this is the point. Sometimes we can have ideas that initially seem to have no connection with the topic under discussion, but for some reason they linger in our minds. It is only later, usually when it is much too late for them to make any difference, that we realise how useful they could have been.
It is often best to go with our gut instinct and mention our ideas at the time that we have them. Our intuition can be way ahead of us, pointing out how to resolve a problem even before we have had a chance to focus our conscious, rational thoughts upon it.
Remember, if you wait for inspiration your ideas will probably arrive too late to make a positive difference.