Steal Your Ideas: Where I write a post (or posts) based on YOUR suggestions. If you’d like to see my attempt at covering a topic in a blog post, leave it in the comments or send an email.
“What about a blog about stealing prompts from people. Sounds like an instant hit to me” – Nolan F.
Preface: I suppose that it is fitting that the first post in this series is about the nature of the series itself. Good job, Nolan. Well, I suppose I can break it down into three sections that explain my thought process behind doing the “Stealing Your Ideas” Series. First, I like to write and create. I love the imagination and being able to connect with people through a multitude of different forms. Second, I occasionally come up with ideas but, as I’ll discuss, am not very diligent at following through with them and getting them out of my brain. Third, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to outsource the process of idea development to other people and then go from there. Those three areas working together are the basis for the “Steal your Ideas” series. Although, I prefer to think of it more as collaborating rather than stealing since you all are giving me the ideas willingly (and as such are forfeiting all legal claim to them *wink).
Part 1: I like to write
As said in my little preface, I love the expression of the imagination, whatever form that takes. Human beings are creational beings, and part of our potential is being able to bring about the ideas that we have. From someone hitting a couple of five-gallon buckets with sticks in the subways of New York City to engineers and physicists sending research satellites through the Solar system, our ability to take the ideas of what doesn’t yet exist and bring it about into reality intrigues me. For me, it is in the more artistic realm of the brain that this takes place. Part of the reason I studied theatre, is that I love to tell stories and to transport people to different places and times with different characters. Through these stories, we all can learn something new about others and ourselves. We see the individual and the whole of humanity.
In my free time, it’s easiest for me to write as a form of expression. All I need is a pen and something to write on. One look around my bedroom (this isn’t an invitation) and you’ll find little snippets of ideas all around; written in notebooks, on scrap pieces of paper and old receipts or anything else that was around when the creative juices were flowing. Over 90% of everything I write will never make it to pubic eyes, but that’s probably in yours and my best interest. Despite this, I don’t figure myself to be one who is very good at coming up with ideas, at least, not from scratch. This, and other reasons to be addressed soon, is why it tends to take me a little while to come up with new content. When I started pursuing writing in my free time and doing this blog, I started seeing articles about never running out of writing ideas. After the first few clicks, I got the gist of what they were saying and came to the conclusion that they weren’t worth my time. I generally don’t adhere to the idea that there are all cover-all processes that can be applied to everybody. Also, they forgot to mention that all their ideas were cliche and not very interesting (because this is top of the line entertainment). But I digress.
Part Two: What a great idea! Let me write it down then forget about it!
The articles got annoying. While I might not be an idea factory, part of my lack of content was that I have the bad habit of coming up with ideas and then not doing anything with them. I talked about all those little snippets strewn around my house, which sounds like a lot, but in reality, all those little notes I write down, are the vast minority of seeds that I have. When I say seeds, I would rank them one step below full-fledged ideas. A seed, to me, is little more than a written line or image I think of. It’s the first hint of what might turn into an idea, but I’m never quite sure what I’m looking at. I have lots of these seeds throughout the day. For that, I count myself fortunate. But then, I don’t do anything with them or I don’t have anything to record them with. It is a fairly often occurrence for me to come to the end of the day, remember that I had the seed of an idea earlier in the day, but then not be able to remember what it was at all. A number of my peers in college told me that my day-to-day life warranted a camera following me around. I certainly wouldn’t say that and assume they did only because they were getting the prime 5% of the day between all the mundane happenings of my life. Others suggested a voice recorder. That is probably more apt. But, to be fair, I can do that on my phone yet don’t. So there really isn’t an excuse. I don’t record the seeds, which results in me forgetting most of them, which in turn means only having a minority of seeds to turn into ideas, which concludes in a poor harvest of the imagination, to carry on the seed analogy.
But even so, there are other reasons why the ideas that do stick around rarely come to fruition. One, I tend to be busy for a good amount of my days (at least I tell myself that). Then, if I’m not busy, I tend to be fairly lazy. Laziness is probably one of the worst enemies to the imagination. Along with a strict totalitarian state that punishes creativity with death. Two, and it may sound silly, but I’m never sure that my ideas will be worthwhile. It’s an interesting thought because, really, how do I know if this random idea won’t be one that resonates with many people and works well. As the old adage goes, you’ll never know if you don’t try. I always want to see the whole picture in my head and refuse to take it piece by piece. I’m creating this thing, so I should be able to know the whole idea before I start, right? Well, no. That’s not really how the creative process works in most cases. Yes, plans and thought out ideas are good, but there will always be a degree of learning as you go, adaptation and changing that is inherent and good for the process. I recognize that, but it still bugs me. I want the whole thing mapped out for me. It would definitely make things easier. The desire to see the whole idea before it happens, I think, is related to the desire to have a gratifying feeling from the end product and a having a security through the process ( side note: this is why people fear change in real life. I’ll give you this one for free)
If I am creating something, there is a purpose for it and I hope that that purpose is realized. I create to connect with people. So, before I make something, I like to “know” that it will connect to people. After all, it would be a little crushing if I spent a great deal of time and effort pouring myself into something to a resounding result of nothing. If I have a picture of the end, I can feel better because I can look at that envisioned end and say, “yes, this seems like something that will connect with people.” If I create piece by piece, I never have that self-assurance and it creates a sense of uneasiness through the whole process. Of course, even with the best view of the final creation, it is impossible to tell if it really will resonate with people, but I, like most people, tend to gobble up the idea of security in my pursuits like candy. How terribly restricting the self-imposed safety-harnesses can be though. My solution to make myself feel better on both sides (creating consistent content and also not having my efforts fall flat) was that I decided to have others provide me with ideas.
Part 3: Can’t someone do all this for me?
No, I don’t need someone to do all of the work for me, but I figured that while I try to manage my little amount of idea-seeds I do keep around, I would also invite others to contribute to the process. It’s like they’re giving me the seedling plants you can buy at the green house so you don’t have to spend the first two weeks after planting wondering whether or not a couple leaves are actually going to pop out of the ground. That part is over before I even start. All I have to do is water the ideas and see what I can grow out of them. So now, I have more content to work on and hopefully I can do justice to people’s ideas and not let them die. In fact, I think it would be really cool if others then were able to take what I was able to rattle out of my brain and add to it themselves. One of the main pillars that this blog is built on is community. In fact, people can produce their own content and give it to me to post here. The core of the idea is connectivity.
Feel free to submit other ideas for me to write about in the comments or via email or however you really feel like. I’m just words on the internet, not your boss.