Isaac Asimov: How to never run out of ideas again


Originally published at:


I love Asimov, but that “lower your standards” tip became all too apparent towards the end. As a college freshman, I read his book on Haley’s comet and was very disappointed. It was terrible. I’m not a writer, but I could have written a better book then. He clearly wrote it off the top of his head. Possibly even dictated it off the top of his head.


I’d like to read more but the Charles Chu link isn’t working for me.


The link is broken; try this:

The link in the article has an extra ‘h’ at the beginning.


4. Lower Your Standards

Oh, that’s how I ended up at working for Gov.


7. Use the Dewey decimal system as a check-list,


can’t we just make an AI that comes up with ideas for us?


At first glance I thought that having turquoise jewelry would solve the problem.




Thanks Bobby Martin!


According to his wife Asimov kept working right up to the day he died (of AIDS, from a transfusion before screening became de rigueur). So it’s quite likely he wasn’t working at his best.


From the image I was expecting “Always wear a bolo tie”.


nice try, but that’s the exact same idea my first idea-making AI came up with. AIs, they’re all the same.


No comment.


No, no, Asimov was writing until the day he died. He wasn’t working, since for him the definition of “work” was “time spent not writing”. This probably explains how he was able to write several hundred books.

Asimov also freely admitted that while he was certain he’d be writing to the day he died, he was much less certain about how long he’d be published.


Interesting. For me, its work = time not reading. But I still have to work myself through books (since I don’t put them aside only because I get bored, see 60-books-a-year advice). That’s a different kind of work, though.


3, 4 & 5 combined works for me. I don’t think of it as “lower your standards” so much as “let it flow”.

I’ve done the same thing musically, and I find that not interrupting the flow is key. Making more stuff, full speed ahead, is practice, and practice makes the creative act easier and the results better.

I can’t really get the hang of it with writing, but I’m okay with that.

  1. Grow badass mutton chops
  2. …?
  3. Profit!


I liked him better before I found out what a known misogynistic creep he was in the convention scene.


For each book grow your mutton chops 1mm.