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How to make ideas simple and clear

Articles & Essays

How to make ideas simple and clear

Marvin Lau

So, there's an episode of spongebob where he is told to draw a circle, and proceeds to draw an intensely detailed face in order to do so.

The redundancy of drawing a face before the circle is the backbone of the gag.  (Insert dissectingafrogasametaphorforanalyzinghumour.gif) The funny thing is, it's a perfect metaphor for how ideas are distilled into clear articulate thoughts.


The detailed face

We often create ideas without a full picture of its context. Like a hypothesis we start to fill in all the components of an idea with thorough research, brainstorming concepts, argument developments, and end up with long and wordy drafts. With the entire idea filled out, it is much easier to see what to cut. 


The rough lines

The cutting process gets to a point where we can start to notice patterns in our ideas. By grouping common ideas together we can infer the larger ideas. Then it is simply cutting away the non-essential large ideas.



The circle

this is the coveted single line that encompasses your idea in its essence. It takes a lot of reworking, but eventually you have a clear idea that anyone can understand. 


don't be squidward 

the misconception of creating clear ideas, is that there isn't an immense backlog of rough work that precedes it. At the core, clarity is the measurement of how well you know your idea, but I think good ol Albie said it best:

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.