How do you spark an idea?

I’ve been reading papers. Of course, I’ve started by finding the shortest ones and reading those first. Which, while gratifying right now, is going to mean soon all the papers I have to read are long. And I’ve been really hoping the paper reading was going to help spark an idea. But so far, no go. Which really isn’t that surprising, considering I’ve only read a few papers so far.

But I wish there was an easy way to come up with ideas. Or, more specifically, ideas that are related to my research. Because I can come up with lots of other ideas.

I have met with my supervisor already once this week, and am going to meet with him again. But so far, our ideas have sort of gone in circles. We have some initial constraints that our experiment/plan must meet. And our ideas always start off well. Until we try to refine it. Then, we eventually end up violating one of our initial constraints, and we have to start over.

I don’t feel like our constraints should be so hard to work around. But we also can’t change them – that’s how we ended up in trouble with our last set of experiments. If we’re going to test the “right” stuff this time, we need to stay within the constraints.

Part of me wants to just go in a totally different direction. But I know part of that is because I just can’t see a way forward at the moment. And changing things that much, will mean a ton more work and delaying graduation even more. Which is not something I actually want to do.

So, in the meantime, I will continue to make my way through the papers (ugh) and keep my fingers crossed that we can finally devise an experiment that fits all constraints. Wish me luck.

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