As the deadline looms over your head like a vulture in the desert stalking it’s latest prey, you rack your brain for the elusive idea that will surely bring your toy ideation to the next level. There is no question you are the hero they seek to meet this insurmountable task.
Yes, you can already imagine your peers cheering your name as they lift you up on their shoulders, giving you a parade celebrating your new amazing idea. The chants of “genius toy designer” fill the air and get louder and louder as the crowd swells around you.
The parade grows larger still, as more people press in to get a better look at their champion, but without warning, your daydream is shattered by the new email notification informing you the ideation review has been moved up to tomorrow morning.
As the sweat pours down your heavy brow, like an old Twilight Zone re-run, the crowd suddenly vanishes and you are left sitting all alone within the silence of your dark cubical, buried deep within the labyrinth of corporate America. The cube walls seem to be closing in toward you as your breathing becomes more forced. Think, think and think some more but all seems futile.
Like Othello, the tragic hero, you remember better days as you cover your face in shame, somberly whispering the need for ideas! Ideas, oh what thou wouldest do for a brilliant idea. Oh new idea I do bid thee to come!
The clock slowly ticks away, second by second, like Edgar Allan Poe’s beating heart under the floorboards, louder and louder and louder still until the day mercifully comes to an end. You contemplate calling in sick the next morning and even feign a few coughs to your coworkers who are also doing the same.
You cannot hide the shame as you slowly walk to your car with your head hung low. How did such a promising career ever take this ugly turn? Even the newsflash on the radio reporting Justin Bieber’s latest tattoo does nothing to bolster your mood, as you drive through the rush hour traffic still thinking, thinking and thinking more.
Then, you finally arrive home and make your way to the couch. Yes, that glorious throne that allows you to rest your weary head. As you eat your chicken pot pie and watch TV, from out of nowhere, a blast of pure inspiration suddenly hits you with an amazing idea!
Yes, a glorious idea! A wonderful, bonafide idea! You scramble to get a pad of paper to jot this down, but one cannot be found. Then, after running to the kitchen and looking feverishly through the mess that has piled up, you suddenly discover one lone wrinkled piece of paper shaped like a little heart!
Ready to write, you are thwarted again as no pen is in sight, but after several minutes of searching, you eventually discover a chewed pencil you would normally refuse to touch. In desperation you try to write, but the point is broken! Being a mere human being, you then mumble a few choice words your daughter instantly overhears like radar and dutifully reports every syllable to Mom.
As your spouse scolds you and your daughter playfully smiles, an old pen buried deep within the “messy” drawer is unearthed and you can now record your industry changing idea. Unfortunately, after all of this nonsense you can’t remember anything!
So, you go back to the couch to rest your weary head once again and watch one of the dancing stars get voted off. After the tears and speeches, you now feel better about yourself and the idea magically returns, but after you finally write it down you realize it really wasn’t very good after all.
Other ideas, however, begin to flow and your job is saved! Yes, you can now afford Netflix for at least another month and return to work with a pile of wonderful ideas. Although no parade is warranted, you do get one of your never-done-before concepts to the engineers who then request a manufactured sample.
The point of the story is simply this—the best part of our job as toy designers is when we get hit with that wonderful and truly glorious burst of creative inspiration. We don’t always know when it will come, but it will, and when it does, some truly amazing things come out of it.
Keeping your mind fresh and clear is the most important aspect of the process, so you can explore new areas of creative thought and play. Creativity is like walking a tightrope—exhilarating and actually very easy to navigate just as long as you don’t look down.
So, the next time you need to come up with ideas, make sure you enjoy the moment and allow yourself to have fun along the way. Take the time to explore, with childlike curiosity, the creative depth of toy design and the endless possibilities of play.
Special thanks to Mallory Martindale (toy industry account services) for posing for this sketch.