Understanding the difference between the “now” ideas and the “not yet” ideas can be a complex and hard process to understand. The reason is, EVERY idea feels like a now idea. That familiar tantalizing, sizzling piece of bacon just wanting to be tasted now when your vegan diet says otherwise. That kind of feeling. Ideas are like addictions; you can fall in love with the moment by moment thrill new ideas bring, each one better than the last, until all you have to show is a half scribbled trail of “great” ideas leading to no-mans land. Instead they ride alongside each other getting all mixed up like some outlandish wild west outlaws. The difficult part is not having ideas, but knowing the difference between the three.
I can clearly remember feeling depressed one day as I looked at the idea ratio to creation ratio in my life and if I squinted with just the right amount of hearty guesstimation, I was averaging about a 99% idea ration to a 1% creation ratio. In that moment I felt defeated, realizing how many ideas never made it out of the idea stage. Oh how thankful I am they didn’t!
Having 99 bad ideas for 1 good idea that I actually created wasn’t a sign of an unhealthy creative life, it was actually the sign of a healthy one. I needed to get through those 99 bad ideas to find the 1 good idea worth pursuing to completion. Allowing myself to let ideas run through me actually gave me a stronger clarity of what was good and what wasn’t, I developed a better filter for my creativity to respond to, instead of chasing after the first idea that came to mind. Don’t get me wrong, we all love those Willy Wonka golden ticket moments when brilliance strikes on the first try, but my point is, don’t be afraid to have ideas but don’t fall into the lie that every idea has to be a now idea. I have discovered many of the ideas I have, no matter how deliciously eager they may seem to want to come out now, are not yet ready. I have films that I don’t plan on making for another 10 years. I have ideas that I have written down and kept safe for who knows when. All I know is they are good, but not yet.
You may have a good idea within a bad idea. Let’s call them ugly ideas. I’ve had a ugly idea for a story but tucked inside was a brilliant idea for a character. I may write a horrible scene with a golden nugget of dialogue. The beauty of ideas is they are like cells that work together passing information back and forth to keep your creative body active and alive. All those hidden good ideas inside ugly ideas will come in handy, for I will find myself working on a new story, and BOOM!! My car explodes. Ok just kidding. I realize I can pull that character from that ugly story idea, and that killer dialogue from that ugly character and make a really good STORY!
When you are able to imagine your creative ideas as a collection of good, bad and the ugly and not all good, they become vital as a bank of stored ideas for the present and future. It takes away the pressure and fear of “missing” an opportunity. You will find that your ideas are stronger, healthier, and more proactive when you allow them the time and the place to be used, and not just force it to happen because it’s new and exciting. There is a season for everything, and there is an idea for every season worth harvesting. Learn to know what ideas are seeds, and which ones are ripe for taking! Knowing the difference between the good, the bad and the ugly ideas will be the difference between good and great!