People are always telling ideas that they have. Some are pure brilliance, some are workable and some are just shit. Sometimes they come in four packs like wine coolers and before you you find yourself at the kitchen sink coughing up stomach bile or passed out from a diabetic coma, the ideas are gone. Someone has wiped them across their puke rinsed lip and tossed the in the kitchen trash. I can count on my knuckles the number of people who did anything with the ideas that they had.
When I think about it, there’s an idea process that everyone goes through; you, me, Leonardo Da Vinci, everybody. And I’d love to have references here to neurological studies and psychological experiments validating every statement with evidence, but I don’t. I only have my personal observations. Only through my own experience, have I learned to see the following four steps:
This is the basic framework of the un-creative mind. We all go through it, but some of us never step outside of it. This process, used to completion on every idea, is a guarantee way to remain average. Getting trapped in this process is the reason that we look up to the Picassos, Steve Jobs and Frank Lloyd Wrights of the world. It’s the reason why what they accomplish seems so impossible. This is the process of smothering dreams. This is how we become people in grey suits in tan sedans who listen soft rock and eat ham sandwiches with yellow mustard everyday.
When the average person has an idea, they sit on it because they assume that the idea is worthless. Inside of our heads there’s a grumpy little man with a rubber stamp that says “SHIT” and he stamps everything that he sees. He was once a happy man who got up early for work and brought donuts on Fridays but then we put him on double shifts and made him skip lunches and vacations; we lowered his pay and reduced his benefits. Now he’s a miserable bureaucratic bastard. He’s taken over the mail room with an uzi and he’s re-routed our creative conveyor belt down to the incinerator.
Sure. We all have bad ideas. We all have mountains of crap waiting to drop out like frozen hamburger patties from our ears. We all embarrass ourselves with moments of colossal stupidity, but worthless ideas are totally normal. Worthless ideas are positive signs of production. They remind us that that the factory in our head is still pumping away at the pistons. As Chuck Jones said, “Every artist has thousands of bad drawings in them and the only way to get rid of them is to draw them out.” So…don’t be afraid of bad ideas. Bad ideas keep you working when the great ones are scarce. Bad idea grease the wheels and oil the joints. James Altucher frequently talks about “exercising the idea muscle.” He suggests that you write down ten ideas a day and if you have trouble getting ten, to write twenty. The point being to get used to creating ideas: brilliant, workable and excrement alike.
Also living in our heads is our internal hen. She’s fat and warm and she that makes us sit on every idea that we ever have. It’s not a bad thing. We incubate them. We insulate them with our asses. We wait to see what happens. Some ideas hatch, but most are just still-born concepts that end up scrambled on a stove somewhere in the mid-west. They taste great with toast and sausage and some people even cover them with streams of ketchup. That’s the nature of bad ideas. We eat them. We take the nutrients and we go back to the factory. But those other ideas; those hatchings, we’re stuck with them. You’d think we would be proud but humanity is not a natural mother to original thought. When it comes to ideas, we prefer to eat our young.
You see, as human beings, we are driven by the status quo; we group together by nature. We chose not to stand out. Call it the pack mentality, or predator/prey instinct, but when it comes down to it, most of us prefer to blend in; to be average. The deer who runs free and alone ends up as lunch for the mountain lion.
Ideas force us to confront the possibility of greatness. They force us to consider breaking from the pack. So, when new ideas, ones with potential, crack from their shells, we parade them before the council; we subject them to the group. We put them through all of the scrutiny, jealousy and negativity that we can find. We silently pray for execution.
With ideas come responsibility. We are responsible to the idea. We are responsible to the potential. We are responsible to the group and how the idea benefits the group. Ideas make us into single parents. They make get second jobs. They make us get up at 5 in the morning, after waking us up all night. Ideas change our lives, and few of us are willing to change our lives; few of us want responsibility. We wanna go out drinking on school nights. We want casual unprotected sex. We want last minute travel plans and low monthly rent. But, ideas require effort and nurturing; they require that we become better people. So, in hopes of freedom; in hopes of being unburdened, we present our ideas to the group and we hope that someone brave and cruel will step forward and grind our babies into chicken nuggets.
Maybe we’re lucky. Maybe we have good friends. Maybe we know people who encourage us even with bad ideas. Maybe we only know people who want us to excel. Maybe they don’t crave murder and honey dipping sauce. Maybe our ideas survive, so we start thinking of the expectations that are now upon us. What if we aren’t ready? What if we aren’t good at it? We if we fuck them up? And that’s where so many of us go wrong. We start to think about our social standing. We start to think about other people’s opinions of us. We start to the fear the audience and we begin to feel separated from the pack. We begin to feel our vulnerability. We becoming blind to potential greatness, bound to the possibilities of failure. “It’s stupid.” “It’s too big.” “I don’t know enough.” “I’m not naturally talented.” We get short of breath. We panic and we decide somewhere, in a private part of our minds, that being average is easier. It becomes acceptable to sacrifice our aspirations for security. We decide its okay to strive to be just like everyone else so we perpetuate the ideas of genius and prodigy and gods. We shut down the creative fractory and we take our last surviving idea out to the side yard, where we give it a Topical Punch Capri Sun and we beat it with a piece of fire wood until there’s nothing left but bone fragments and a dark circle in the dirt.
Ideas die because we kill them. We live boring lives because we chose them. The only enemy is the enemy that we make out of the shadows of our fears. If you want to be great then be daring, be willing to work and never give an inch of ground that doesn’t come in exchange for three rungs on the ladder to the sky. Do something. Raise up an idea. Do it today. What are you waiting for?
I’m busy and I spend most of my time at home making shit, so I imagine that you socially healthy folks are pretty damn busy. It’s hard to keep up with everything when information is darting toward your head like pricks in a porno…I imagine you have little time to regularly check into my website just to see what I’m up to, so I decided to make this newsletter. Sign up below and get a weekly digest of my last 7 days: news, blogs updates, what I’ve been watching, reading and listening to, and pretty much whatever is on my mind when I send it out. Newsletter subscribers will be the first to know news on my projects and I get smart I’ll find ways to do exclusive offers. I may also include doodles, photos, stories or rants that I won’t be posting anywhere else. Hopefully now you have at least one tempting reason to click the little grey “sign up” button below.
pasonart replied to your photo “Grab the new issue of Content for my interview with artist Lou…”
This looks cool where are they located do they mail issues
Content is run by some really cool folks. Check out their website for info: http://content-magazine.com/home/