Idea Hoarding

One of my favorite authors and artists, Austin Kleon, tweeted something this morning which has been sticking with me.
“I have too many ideas” is by far the most humblebraggy question I get asked

Respectfully, I’ve got to disagree. Comedian and writer Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant concedes that “complaining about being too creative is like complaining about being on The New York Times bestseller list too often.” She notes, though, that many writers struggle with an overabundance of fresh ideas, all of which seem promising.

This rings true to me. On the Myers-Briggs, I test as an extreme ‘N’, or intuitive type. (And, yes, I know the efficacy of the Myers-Briggs has come under scrutiny; in this case I find it to be a valuable frame of reference.) As such, I tend to live with a torrent of seemingly promising creative ideas. This becomes a real problem when paired with a limited ability to vet ideas and discard the unworkable ones. A person with that asset/deficit combination (speaking from experience) has to work really hard to develop compensatory strategies to prune the surplus and, most crucially, feel okay letting go of ideas which, given infinite time and resources, could evolve into amazing finished projects.

Photo Credit: Idea, Pimthida on Flickr (Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND License).

Photo Credit: Idea, Pimthida on Flickr (Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND License).

When someone tells me that they feel like they have too many ideas, it’s not bragging: humble or otherwise. What that person is trying to say is that he or she has an easier time coming up with ideas than letting go of them. It seems a lot of people recognize this imbalance in themselves: a Google search for “idea hoarding yields over 700,000 results.” But what to do? To be honest, I don’t have a particularly effective strategy for cultivating the best ideas from an ample supply. Mike Vardy offers a useful four-step for curating a surplus of ideas, which resonates with me as it separates the emotional attachment from the act of culling a large number of ideas into a manageable number of projects.

How do you manage an unwieldy torrent of ideas? Got a novel approach which works well for you? I’m on Twitter @prescottindigo.

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