The Cost of Inspiration

I’m cursed with the blessing of inspiration. Seldom do I ever have an idea that isn’t immediately followed by 5 more, making it almost impossible to ever start (much less complete) even 1/10th of them. Heck, even this post was initially interrupted by several others, which have also evolved into drafts that will hopefully become new posts once more has been added to their initial premise.


When creating, you must first come to terms with the fact that not all of your ideas are going to last more than a week, and some that you’ve worked on for years aren’t going to pan out either. A good example of this in my case is a website that I have been pondering off and on for well over a year. It was to be a movie review site based on things I had learned about in a screenwriting class – my goal was to view films and post reviews/ratings much like any of the dozens of sites out there that already do this. The problem, I realized, was that there were already so many other sites out there already doing similar things and my site would most likely not have enough "pull" to stand alone with the features I had in mind. So I had to reluctantly put that idea on the shelf and move on.


Now it’s worth noting that I may still use that idea (or even the concept) for another site at some point in time. Is it selfish to want to hold on to a concept or line of thought? No, not at all. In fact by not learning from what you’ve done you limit where you can go next. (See also: creativity) What’s wrong is when you hold yourself back because you don’t want to let go of something you came up with. It may be brilliant – but will it help your project goals? If not you need to either transfer it to an area of storage for later use or toss it all together. Holding on to past ideas is a great way to show people you’re not moving forward.


In my mind, the strength of a creative person is their ability to move and adapt as ideas come and go. Just as the industry changes, so should the approach to new and uncharted approaches to said field. (Actually, we need to change faster!) While it feels wrong and unnatural to toss an idea out that you’re attached to, part of making a good product is pruning the areas where you recognize weakness. I’ve heard many people say when writing dialogue you should pick your favorite line and toss it out – make that scene work without that witty phrase and the integrity of the whole is increased. So even if it feels off, do what your gut says when it comes to conceptualizing your inspirations. You’ll be happier when that refined idea comes to the forefront much more than you will than watching your first notion fall on its face.