The Place Where Ideas Go To DIE

Today’s blog marks one week past this blog’s eighth week of existence! It also marks the first time I’ve ever been able to blog about WHATEVER I want. Which is a bit daunting, actually – having to come up with a new idea every week would be a STRUGGLE. And incidentally, this is kind of what I want to talk about this week: the relationship between inspiration, ideas and creation! In each Digital Media Lecture we talk about all sorts of interesting aspects of the creative process and view lots of lovely examples of the concepts we’re discussing. Every Tuesday morning after the RTA 102 and 103 double whammy, I leave feeling totally FULL of motivation to create things. And then, usually… I don’t. And it’s not for lack of ideas, because I feel like at any given moment I’m full of 100. It’s just that I get stuck when I come to that natural next step of actually executing the idea; making something out of it. And I think a lot of people have the same problem.

Why is this? I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. At the root of every rad piece of digital media we view or experience, there’s a great idea. If I want to improve in this field (which I do), and get more experience producing media (ditto), and enjoy making things (yup), then what’s stopping me from taking my ideas and turning them into something?

I think there’s a couple things:

  1. Most of my “ideas” are really more like shadows of ideas – they have decent potential, but they’re not really fleshed out. It takes work to make a sub-par idea really great, and time and dedication that a lot of people aren’t wiling to put in.
  2. On which note, the classic “time” excuse: we just don’t have enough! This is maybe a little true, actually – most people are trying to succeed in school and/or work, have a social life, and some time left over to actually relax and SLEEP. Still, most of us (ME) are totally guilty of wasting time – time that could be put to better use on creative projects?
  3. And finally, it can be hard to have faith in your ideas! I definitely get a bit (totally) intimidated by all the madly skilled people I’m surrounded by; like, “There’s no way anything I make could ever be as good!” It’s actually a really exciting place to be, because, what a totally swell opportunity to learn from people! But intimidating, because it can be hard to have faith in your creative voice when you’re feeling your skills are wildly inadequate to those around you. HOWEVER, what I and all my similarly plagued comrades have to remember is that if you DON’T practice, you NEVER get better. Have you ever had that fantasy when you discover you’re a natural talent at something? ’Cause I totally do. Sadly, THAT’S NOT REALITY, FOLKS!

So, how does one overcome this kind of creative blockage? There’s the totally obvious answer, of course, which is, JUST START. But personally, I’ve always found that advice to be kind of obnoxious because YEAH YEAH YEAH whatever, whoever’s giving that advice is obviously now quite successful, so easy for THEM to say! But not so easy for whoever’s staring at a blank Photoshop page, despairing how they’re ever going to fill it up, and what’s more, in a way they can be relatively proud of! So I’m going to attempt to give myself some superior advice:

  • When you have an idea, write it down, even if you think it’s awful. It might have potential!!
  • Let your ideas just chill for a while, and then come back, and work on them.
  • Make a plan: HOW are you going to execute your idea? What skills might you need to acquire, and how will you do that (Can I get a Lynda.com??)? When?
  • If you fail, give up for a while – drown your sorrows how you see fit, etc. – but try not to give up forever.
  • Ask all the cool talented people you know for help. Try to avoid the ones who will ridicule you. (PSA: actually, if you think they’ll ridicule you, they’re probably not all that cool and you should leave them some passive-aggressive post-it notes to communicate this.)
  • HAVE FAITH, BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN YOU!! Cool? Cool.
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