Friday, 15 August 2014

Ways to Cope with Too Many Ideas?

"A good artist has less time than ideas." -

Oh how true! And this doesn't just apply to those of us who are visual artists; anyone who allows their creativity to flourish must surely identify with this Kippenberger quote. 

Ideas are at the very heart of creativity and when they come thick and fast they can easily overwhelm us. Sometimes the torrent of ideas, all jostling for 
attention, can feel more like a burden than a gift. I know there are times when I despair of ever getting out from under the crushing weight of them. 

When panic sets in, the impossibility of acting on all of them can make me want to run away and do something completely unrelated!

But I never actually do that 
because there are ways of coping with
'Too Many Ideas Syndrome'!

First of all, I found that knowing that other people 'suffer' from the same thing was an enormous help. (Thank you, Internet!) And I read through various articles on the subject with suggestions for keeping our cool when ideas threaten to overwhelm us. 

Some of them work for me, others don't. 

But here are the main strategies you may want to try if you feel in danger of being overwhelmed by your stream of ideas:

1. Write down your ideas as soon as possible after they enter your mind. This was by far the most popular strategy and it's the one that I find works best for me. Whether you keep a special notebook for 'ideas-on-the-go' or various notepads and jotters around your house and work-space (especially near your bed!), it doesn't matter. You may even find a specially dedicated folder on your computer works best for you. 

The important thing is to get the ideas out of your head and onto paper, leaving your mind free to concentrate on the job in hand - which, in many cases, is simply falling asleep!

2. Take a little time to review your 'jottings' regularly. What you may well find is that some of the ideas that seemed brilliant at the time, may have lost their gloss while they were waiting for you to come back to them. If so, that's great! Cross them out, delete them or do whatever you do to get rid of them.

Having reduced the number of ideas a little, look closely and see if any of them relate to one another in a way that means they can be combined; or maybe some of them are almost duplicates. If so, that will reduce the ideas tally even further. 

The next step is to prioritize the remaining ideas and even, if you are anything like me, organise them into a realistic schedule for carrying them out.

Once those steps are done, 
you should feel a sense of freedom,
 a lightening of the load  of 'too many ideas'! 
You don't necessarily have to
 stick to your plan/schedule;
 just making it can be therapeutic.

If you've carried out these two steps - writing down your ideas and then pruning and prioritising them - and you still feel over-burdened, here are some other ideas I came across, none of which works as well for me as the steps above.

1. Take time out to meditate.

2. Repeat to yourself, or out loud: 'There is plenty of time.' (this one definitely doesn't work for me at my time of life.)

3. Convince yourself that whatever needs to be done will be done. (again, to me that would involve putting on heavily rose-tinted spectacles.) 

Have you heard the Latin phrase 
'Ars longa, vita brevis.'? 

It originated from the work of the Ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, and the true meaning, as interpreted by Wikipedia, is:  "it takes a long time to acquire and perfect one's expertise (in, say, medicine) and one has but a short time in which to do it"

But it's often translated as -

 'Art is long, Life is short!' 

 - and as such, I can't begin to count how many times a day it runs through my mind!

How do you cope with
Too Many Ideas?


Victoria Lynn Hall said...

I definitely struggle with this and these are some great tips, Judy! I also find it helps to affirm how grateful I am for all the ideas that come to me. I would rather have too many than too few! :)

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Victoria - thank you for your comments. I do agree that I would rather have too many ideas than too few and your affirmation idea sounds like another great tip! :)

Christie Cottage said...

This is sooo true!

I have a projects list.
A supplies on hand list
and an ideas list.

Sometimes I sit and look at the supplies and when I get an idea to use supplies I have, I add it to my ideas list. Then put an * next t the supplies so I know to check my idea list.

It works pretty well!


Judy Adamson said...

Hi Christie - that sounds like a really well thought out way to handle your ideas! It's always good to add to the list of ways of coping - thank you :)

Anonymous said...

Great post! I have felt every stage of what you wrote, the panic, the documenting, the dissapointment that it lost its glimmer, the happiness that it still had its glimmer. very relatable & true! Harnessing it into idea journals was, really, the best thing I could have done for my sanity! Haha!

Thanks for sharing!

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Vivayne - thank you for stopping by and I'm glad you were able to relate to this post! 'Idea Journals' sounds like an excellent idea. We probably all need to go a little mad at times but just as well to hang on to at least some of our sanity as well! :D