Don’t forget–the LHF Greenhouse closes to new members on Sunday. If you need a place to grow some of the new ideas you are about to discover, join us inside!
Over the last six months, first as part of the summer of small voices series, and more recently as I’ve been sharing the LHF Greenhouse invitation I’ve noticed a disturbing trend–a large number of you believe “you don’t have any ideas.”
This worries me because we need people like you–and the ideas that come from your smart, kind, generous, and determined souls– to create a future for our universe that is brighter than our past.
I’m also highly suspicious. I suppose there might be some people in the world who are genuinely idea-free. But they don’t feel the longing you feel to make the world a better place. That longing is a sure sign of blocked ideas trying to get your attention.
Let’s see what we can do to let them out.
Have Bad Ideas
The main difference between people with lots of good ideas and people who struggle is that idea generators don’t let fear of bad ideas get in their way. In other words, the fastest way to ensure your good ideas stay locked in your heart is to ridicule yourself for bad ones. There will be plenty of time for judgement later, and there is no law that says you have to finish everything you start. Let the terrible ideas flow and before long you’ll start to notice the diamonds that come a long for the ride.
Get a Running Start
Some people may be inspired on demand. I do not know those people. Sure there are days when the words just come to me, or when I have more ideas than I can handle. But there are just as many days when the well seems dry. Every sentence I start seems cheesy, obvious–or both. Sometimes that’s a sign that I need to back off (see “create space” below.) When that’s not an option, or when I’ve been in a slump for awhile, I sneak up on genius instead. As a writer this means I set a timer for 50 minutes and just start typing. I can’t tell you how many documents I’ve started with “What if I never write another decent sentence again. . .” Once I work through the abject fear, I start to focus on the subject at hand, just writing what I know as it comes to me. I don’t worry about how bad the writing is–it’s supposed to be. I don’t worry about how the ideas fit together–they don’t. When time is up, I save my work and walk away.
After at least four hours, I come back and read what I’ve written with fresh eyes. Some of it is absolutely terrible, but there are usually some sections that work, some parts may even be brilliant. From there I can craft a finished product out of the nuggets of inspiration I wasn’t able to recognize as I wrote them.
Creative ideas need space to grow. Virginia Woolf covered the importance of physical and economic space quite thoroughly in 1929, but there is one other place to create space before creative ideas take root–your mind. When your days are filled with busyness, and your nights are filled with mentally absorbing, but not creative, pursuits like television, FarmVille, or my personal favorite, Angry Birds, there is no space left for your own work to emerge.
If, however, you set aside time in which you purposely limit the in flow of ideas, you create a path for your own ideas to flow out. If the idea of sitting around and waiting to have an idea is unappealing, try this instead: spend more time each day doing work that engages part of your body, but not your mind–showering, driving, and washing dishes are personal favorites. Instead of listening to music or watching TV while you work, let your mind wander. In less than 30 minutes you’ll wish you had a notepad to capture the thoughts coming out of your brain.
Spill it! Leave a comment below with your best ideas for igniting the creative part of your brain.