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Thursday, 1 October 2015

Creative Inspiration Hit, Now What?

By Stephen David Roberts, I thought this article was a great read and bears repeating here.

This morning I was listening to the Accidental Creative Podcast on my commute to work. As will sometimes happen, I found the discussion triggering my creative juices. My mind went into over-drive with thoughts and ideas that were flowing faster than my mind could process them. At some point, I had to push the pause button and stop the podcast... it felt like my head was going to explode. I am not the most patient individual. And here I was with these raw ideas that I wanted to act upon immediately. Instead, I was stuck in stop-and-go traffic on route 3.

This is not an uncommon occurrence for me. I suspect it is not for many others, as well. An idea hits and you feel like, if you don't act upon it immediately, it will be lost in the stratosphere for ever... never to be seen again. However, situations (like being stuck in a car) don't often allows for these ideas to be carried out when they hit.

I have also noticed an other interesting phenomenon. The longer I think about an idea, the less the chance I will act upon it. Sometimes, this is because I realize that the idea was just crap, and I am thankful I didn't waste my time on it. But, often there is a level of hesitation due to fear of failure. Other times, I get intimidated by the level of effort an idea requires to see through to fruition. However, more often than not, I don't follow an idea through because I gradually lose the enthusiasm I originally had for that project. Over time, I came to realize that I wasn't acting on many perfectly sound ideas and sought to develop an easy way to rectify this.

So, what did I do this morning when my head was about to explode? I love ability to record notes. In fact, I have the Evernote Widget prominent on my smartphone so I can record with little effort. This morning, I performed a brain dump recording that kept going until I had nothing else to say (i.e. the exploding brain sensation subsided). I also keep a journal with me at all times (I like unlined pages... lines make me feel restricted). In this journal, among other things, is where I keep a permanent record of my raw ideas. So, as soon as I got into work, I replayed my recording and put it to paper in a slightly more cohesive format (yet, by no means finalized). At a later time, if I decide the idea is a good one, I will develop this idea even further on paper.

Here's what I have discovered. By having my ideas on paper, I am more likely to act upon the ones that are worth seeing through. In many cases, much of the hard work has already been done. I find that the physical tasks associated with an idea often feel less intimidating when already thought out and on paper. Also, because this is a multi-process step, that is initiated when I am feeling inspired and continued in smaller chunks, there is less chance of feeling overwhelmed (the "eat an elephant one bite at a time" philosophy).

Here are the key points:

1) When creative inspiration hits, perform a braindump as soon as possible. Don't stop until you have exhausted all points.
2) Don't worry about quality at this stage. Just get it on paper
3) Refine your idea on paper. It doesn't have to be perfect, just cohesive enough to make sense later
4) Go back and review your ideas. Decide which ones are worthy and which are not
5) Follow-through with the worthy ideas.

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