I’m doing the A to Z Challenge in April using the theme “What to Pack on Your Creative Journey.” Of course, you want to pack your ideas for your creative journey.
Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen. ~John Steinbeck, from 1947 interview quoted in John Steinbeck: A Biography by Jay Parini, 1994
A lack of ideas halts a journey before it starts. If you have no ideas to pack, there isn’t much point in taking the first step.
Some people have the opposite problem. If you have too many ideas to fit in your suitcase, you might find yourself sitting on the bed staring at all the items with no ability to make the decisions that must be made before the first step.
Here are some Q&A about ideas that might help with either problem.
Where do you get your ideas? Artists, writers, and other creative folks report that this is the most common question that they get at any interview or event. The most common answer is “everywhere.” When they want to be more helpful, they’ll give examples. This story came from that newspaper article. This photograph was inspired by a painting I love combined with the place where it was taken.
How do you cultivate ideas? Where ever and whenever you encounter ideas, write them down! This act honors the idea. Honoring one idea encourages more ideas to come to call. At least, that’s how it works for me. If I pre-judge ideas, not bothering to write down the ones that seem silly, the ideas start to dry up. I don’t have to act on the ideas to keep them coming, I just have to be attentive enough to write them down when they show up.
How do you tell which ideas are the good ones? If you’re successfully breeding ideas like rabbits, the problem becomes how to choose which ones to pack on your creative journey. Here are some tips that work for me:
- Placate myself with the knowledge that I can always come back for other ideas, later. It’s more important that I choose an idea and act on it than it is to have certainty about it being the best idea.
- Remind myself that the less time I spend worrying about finding the perfect idea, the more time I can spend working on something. Trying lots of different things is my best path to finding the idea that works to create something that is satisfying.
- Use a priority grid to help me choose between multiple ideas that are equally appealing.
Do you find yourself in possession of too many ideas or too few?