Ideas in Boxes (Making Creativity Happen, Part 4)

Well, it has been a long time, but I’m back from Italy and feeling refreshed and creative.In fact, I am brimming with ideas. But rest easy, friends, this is not going to turn into an Eat, Pray, Love ‘look at me, gadding about Italy in my privileged, first world way, breathing in inspiration so I can make money telling you what a wonderful life I have.’ Oh no. (Did I sound bitter there? Really, no, did I? ) Come on, it was only a week, part of which was spent at a friend’s house, catching up after a long time. And we flew Ryanair! Yes, that’s how privileged I am.

But ideas, yes, I came back with a few. So, what next? The truth is, I am something of an ideas factory. I’ve been churning them out for years. I have a little burgundy box, it originally contained miniature Sachertorten, into which I have thrown my scribbled ideas for the past two decades. Some are just on little torn bits of paper, the backs of envelopes and the like. Some make no sense,or are just one word, like ‘crisps’.

Looking back, some of them are not half bad, but I feel the moment has passed for many of them and that what I should do now is develop the more recent ones into something finished, and, hopefully, entertaining. But mostly I don’t. I think it’s because I have a fantasy in my head of what that idea will look like on the page, or on the screen, or in the theatre and I don’t want to ruin that by trying to shape it into something less good than that fantasy. Well, that’s my problem, and I need to get over it. And perhaps I should stop thinking in so many different genres.

What’s exciting is that I am having ideas, lots of them, for everything starts with an idea, even if it is just ‘crisps’. I think of them a little like flat pack furniture. You get all the bits in a box, but you have to make it into a table.

So, how is all this lengthy preamble helping any of us to create? Here is what I’ve learnt, or am learning, and what I want to share with you today:

  1. Never stop having ideas, no matter how ridiculous they may seem. Statistically,not all of them can develop into something, so you’ve got to have lots to find the gems.
  2. Always, and I mean ALWAYS, write them down. Carry a notebook, record them into your phone. Ideas are everywhere and can strike anywhere and at any time of the day.
  3. Make some time to have ideas every week, every day, if you can. If you have one idea a day, that’s 365 in a year. If 10% are workable into a story, painting, song, or even a joke, that’s 36.5 usable ideas.
  4. Start to develop your ideas as soon as you can, so you never feel the moment has passed. That’s a mistake I have made too often. Ah, well, I put those lost ones down as part of the 90% for now, but it might be a waste. Waste is a Bad Thing.
  5. Don’t be intimidated by the quantity of your ideas. Pick one and run with it as far as you can. If it doesn’t work out, it’s just making you ready for the next idea out of the hat that will succeed. Think of it as training, or at the least, a good stretch and a warm up.
  6. Never stop having ideas.

I’m off now to start crafting and polishing. That makes me sound like a sculptor or a jeweller. They’re creatives too, you know. We are all creatives. As someone once said, even telling lies is creativity. And even a lie starts with an idea.

Until next time, Happy Creating.



Author: squattingtoad

Mel is a comedy writer and performer, with a particular interest in creativity and a cynical interest in the workplace and how its idiosyncrasies (nicest word she could find) can drive us all mad.

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