Sometimes too many ideas can be worse, for me, than too few.
If I have too few ideas, it’s easy to fix. I just live life – reading books, going for walks, talking with friends, letting the experience of living fill my creative well. There are mountains of words written online and off on how to unleash your creativity, and most of them make complex tasks out of something that is, for me, very simple – just live, and breathe, and be open, and it will come. Sometimes all I need is time, even, for the next creative seed to come sprouting out of my heart.
Right now, though, I have the opposite problem: too *many* ideas. (I know, I know, cry me a river.) But it’s more of an issue than it seems. All of these ideas are clamoring for headspace, clamoring for time, and I only have so much. As soon as I get focused on one idea, another comes worming its way in like a jealous sibling, whining for more attention. I try to split my focus, go back and forth, multitask, and all that’s happening is my attention is splintering into shards too tiny to be of any use.
Some of it is that long-standing, oft-proven-wrong-but-still-sticking-around fear that if I don’t pay immediate attention to an idea, it will be lost and irretrievable. Despite knowing full well that ideas are cheap, and even if I do forget one it will come back later in a more robust and vibrant form, the fear of its loss is still present, hobbling me from picking one from the herd of ideas clamoring for priority.
The only way out I’ve got is, as when I have too few ideas, to wait. Wait for one idea to come forth with a brighter and shinier toy. Wait for the ones without staying power to get bored and wander away. (Yes, I realize that I’m talking about ideas as if they were small children. This is, more often than not, quite accurate.) Wait, and breathe, and remember that I have time, even if it never feels that way. Rarely is anything to be gained by forcing the issue, and never when there is not a very specific problem at hand (such as a deadline).
I suffer from the perennial problem, in my personal life as well as my artistic one, that when a situation is somehow stuck or blocked, I want desperately to just poke it with a stick until something shifts. All too often the universe seems determined to teach me just how counterproductive that strategy is.
Interestingly, writing this out has sparked the germ of a new idea…
Date: March 23, 2011