It’s difficult because there is such pressure to start something that is GOOD. Do you know what I mean? Like I will feel that I have wasted my time if I spend a few hours on something and it doesn’t turn out. And if what I do doesn’t turn out, then nothing I do will turn out - obviously - and then why did I ever think that I could do this thing in the first place? Or anything? Then I go have a nap because this train of thought is leading me down a dark, dark tunnel.
This means we have to change our expectations of what we are doing. We are not sitting down to write a novel in a single night. We aren’t going to compose a symphony or complete a whole painting or anything like that. We are going to sit down (or stand, or roll around on the floor avoiding this moment) and play.
Don’t you remember that creative time is playtime? Maurice Sendak said that he loved going into his drawing room and shutting the door because it was playtime. Like when you’re a kid and you just drew whatever the hell came to mind with NOTHING IN MIND. Or you just made stuff because making stuff is fun.
You have to let go of the thought that everything or anything you do needs to work out perfectly because then whatever you do will suffer the consequences for it. It will look abused and beaten down like the pickles at the top of the jar that are a bit misshapen and kind of soft instead of crunchy and punchy, like they should be.
So where do I start now that I know what I’m going to do is probably going to blow chunks?
Good use of a 90s-ism. You dive in headfirst. YES. Not feet first, and not with your eyes closed. You just start doing. When I’m making jewellery, I hover over the random crap I’ve amassed, like the megalomaniac I am, and start picking up things that jump out at me. Then I start putting things beside each other to see if they go well together. And if they work out, great! And if they don’t, I take them apart and use them for something else. I start again. Because continuing to go down a dead end road will always lead in a dead end.
Okay, but I need an idea EVENTUALLY, right?
Sure. I’ve found that I get at least (AT LEAST) 50% of my ideas WHILE I’m working on something. Whether it’s for the actual thing I’m working on, or for something else. Doing begets more doing. Ideas beget more ideas. The more begetting, the better. Kind of like in the Old Testament. Put your ideas together in a softly lit room with some nice pillows, close the door and see what emerges from it.
Now my ideas are breeding like rabbits! I have too many ideas!
I know, right? I have ideas A LOT because I’ve trained my brain to open wide the flood gates, like a brothel (ew). It doesn’t mean they’re all good, but they are varied and can be interesting and I like to keep them even if they are crap. I have an Idea Box that I use to keep all the notes I’ve scribbled down, or drawn out quickly while I’m at work, or doing whatever. I know my ideas are safe there because a) they won’t be forgotten and 2) I can let them simmer and come back to them later when I might have a new insight on something.
This is also important to do because it frees up more space for the brain to produce more ideas. If you just leave them in there, they coagulate like a scab and then NOTHING can get out and you have to pick past the old, crusty ideas to get to the new, fresh ones*.
To sum up the moral of the story for this post I will give you some tidy bullet points:
- Don’t expect perfection in the beginning. Or ever.
- Do expect to have fun or else why are you doing this?
- Don’t think too hard at first – just play and see what happens.
- Open yourself up to as many ideas as you can, and take good care of them – you don’t know what they’ll become.
*Descriptive imagery for our visual learners.