Tell the truth: do you ever have one of those fabulous days when the ideas are bombarding you from every direction, coming into your brain faster than you can sketch them out or make notes? A day when everywhere you turn provides you with another inspiration, more ideas? Maybe you start making notes, or maybe you’re in your studio and you run around gathering supplies, trying to capture the energy. And then suddenly you find yourself sitting in front of the computer, playing solitaire. Or standing at the kitchen sink, eating the last of a box of Girl Scout cookies. Or you suddenly remember you need to take those shoes back to the mall and exchange them for a bath mat.
What happened there? Well, you were a pressure cooker, and rather than having a way to let off some of that energy in a productive way, your brain had to find a way to get rid of some of it as quickly as possible. Most of us have little experience channeling a lot of creative energy in a productive way–we don’t have A Plan for what to do when we’re bombarded so quickly and furiously that we feel as if we’re in the middle of a creative tornado. And so we shut down. We fiddle or piddle or eat or go shopping, and we have no idea why. At the moment, it seems that’s what we *need* to do–for many of us, bursts of creative ideas aren’t valued a whole lot. If we were in the middle of such a storm of ideas and a friend called us up to whinge about their latest romantic crisis, we wouldn’t say, “Let me call you back; I’m really busy right now.” Because we wouldn’t see that as being “busy,” and we wouldn’t think of it as something of immense value. Sometimes, in fact, it’s a little scary. And overwhelming? You betcha. It’s not just mental energy that races through you, either. It’s actual physical energy–I know that when it hits me, I have to get up and move. Sometimes I go for a walk, a really fast walk. Sometimes I pace. Sometimes I dance all by myself in the middle of my office. None of these are particularly useful, though. What I need is A Plan.
Over the years I’ve learned ways to try to capture as many of the ideas as possible, and I still work hard to recognize what’s happening as soon as it starts and resist the urge to dissipate the energy (for me, it’s cleaning off my desk or surfing Pinterest (yeah, it lured me back in)). What is it for you? If it’s not something you’ve thought about, try to pay attention the next time it happens–when those ideas start pouring into your brain. Watch what you do, or what you’re tempted to do. Take a nap? Take a walk? Sometimes those can be good things–naps and walks can be perfect for helping ideas come to fruition. But other times they’re just escapes from the storm of creativity, and by escaping, you’re losing ideas that might turn into something fabulous.
Come back on Wednesday for some concrete suggestions that might spark ideas for how to make this work for you.
For more about nurturing creative ideas, check out Creative Thursday: Everyday Inspiration to Grow Your Creative Practice, by Marisa Anne.
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