They come and they go and if you’re not careful, you’ll never hold onto ANY of them! Much less ever implement them.
It’s as if you’re out for a stroll and you notice a squirrel. On this particular stroll, you decide you want to catch the squirrel. Eat it, keep it as a pet, feed it to your cat. Whatever the reason, it’s COMPELLING you and you have to do something about it.
So naturally, you try to move as quickly as you can and grab it with your bare, feeble hands. By the time you have moved one step, that squirrel is up a tree or darted across the street (probably to get run over as it stops to decide whether or not it actually wants to cross the street, heads back, then remembers it does, heads the other way, then remembers it forgot it’s buried acorn, turns back and SCREEEEECH…. dead squirrel…).
ANYWHO, there’s no freaking way you’re catching that squirrel with no hunting experience and just your bare hands. It’s gone, and so is your cat’s dinner.
Such is the nature of an idea. They are squirrelly and pop in and out of your head with sometimes only a moment’s notice. If you haven’t equipped yourself with the tools and mindset necessary to grab onto them, you’ll NEVER get to see them come to life.
Sure, they might pop in again, but it will only be to tease you and say “You will never get this! You will never get this! Na na na na na!” (please excuse my Borat reference, it’s old and overused but dear lord I still find it gut wrenchingly funny…)
I get a lot of my ideas while I’m walking or sitting quietly. Other people need to be driving or doing other mindless activities (Yes, I consider driving mindless. Probably explains why NO ONE has ever enjoyed riding with me).
And that’s the first step to learning how to wrestle your ideas into submission.
**PAY ATTENTION TO WHEN IDEAS COME TO YOU MOST FREQUENTLY**
Wake up. Do your morning routine. Go to your job. Live your day like a normal day.
But on this day, pay careful and close attention to when your mind starts wandering and returns with solid gold inspiration.
Morning people might notice this in….. YOU GUESSED IT: the morning. Night owls might get it at… DING DING DING: the night.
But others might be really random. You might have genius strike after 3 and a half cups of coffee. Maybe you wake up from a quick, afternoon ciesta with a burst of creativity. You might even have to clean your bathroom while listening to your favorite album and wearing slippers that don’t match.
However reasonable or random the time for mind creation is, the key is to BE AWARE of how it works for YOU!
Also, and I can’t stress this enough, the Muse (or whatever the idea delivery system is to you) DOES NOT LIKE to be rushed!
That’s why I stress awareness as opposed to tracking down and killing.
If you force it, just like many of the best things in life (relationships, love, advice, taking a dump… out to the trash…), it can go terribly wrong.
Like really, really wrong…
So, like any good hunter, you find out where your prey lives, go there, and wait patiently for it to come to you. (At least I think that’s how hunting works: never been. Would love to if I could actually find anyone that would trust me with a firearm or weapon of any sort. But, I digress…)
Now that you’ve established when ideas are most likely going to make themselves known and you are aware, just like in squirrel hunting, you need the right tools to approach and capture.
On to the next step…
**FIND THE METHOD OF CAPTURING IDEAS THAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU**
You’re in the middle of the new part of your daily routine: being aware of the fragile nature and appearance of ideas. That’s the annoying and beautiful part of inspiration.
Annoyance: it’s difficult and takes practice and sometimes will take days and even weeks to grab onto that platinum, money-making idea.
Beauty: realizing the fragility and necessity of caring for your idea so much that you will do anything to bring it to life.
You’re in the shower, out for a walk, taking a wonderful dump… out to the trash… and the most valuable player, the Muse, shoots an idea at you. You’ve been practicing awareness and you’re getting good at it. Now to capture.
Most hunters have a method they find most useful to their own skill set.
Some are great with snares. Others use rifles. I personally CAN catch a squirrel with my bare hands, but that’s a story for another time (and also a complete fabrication…)
It’s very similar for all you creatives out there. You need to find out the most likely way you will pin down and record your idea. And lucky for you, we live in a time that makes this SO EASY! The hard part is yet again, making it a routine.
During my quiet time or walks, I have my phone with me or my trusty journal.
And pen. You need a pen if you have a journal, to be clear.
When the Muse makes a delivery, I am well equipped to jot it down or even make a note on my phone. I sometimes even pull up Siri and tell that bitch to write the note for me (pardon my language, but I know you feel the same way about her…).
My point is, there are many ways to bring that idea down out of the cosmos and establish some reality to it. A tape recorder. A tiny widdle note pad and matching cute widdle pencil. A knife and piece of wood. A tattoo gun and ink.
Try it all until something sticks and guess what: You found your capture method!
That wasn’t so hard, was it?!?!
Now record that shit (It’s not really shit. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. Or rush you. You are awesome and your idea is awesome. Are you ok now? Did you shrug off that offense? Whether you did or not it’s time to move on…) and we WILL move on.
The last and most difficult and hugely important step…
**CONNECT WITH YOUR IDEA**
You sprinted home from your walk. You ran three red lights to arrive faster. You skipped washing your hands after taking your dump… out to the trash (Sick of that one yet? Too bad…).
You’re so excited you have an idea in hand and light has been shed onto the potential of this glorious gift from the Universe. You sit down at your work station and stare at the fresh tattoo on your forearm oozing blood from the wonderful words that will bring you fame and glory.
And you realize something heavy. Something really powerful and completely terrifying at the same time.
It’s the weight of RESPONSIBILITY.
You have been given this wonderful gift and now you have to take responsibility and ownership of it.
I’m not a parent, but I imagine a somewhat similar feeling to holding your child in the delivery room for the first time (Yes, I just compared an idea to a newborn baby. Deal with it).
You stare at it with love and awe and adoration, and realize in the midst of your elation, that little thing needs YOU for it to survive.
Your idea NEEDS you or it’s going to die.
You start to panic a bit, but you also start to feel the bravery inside you swell up. You face your fear and look your idea/baby in the eyes and say:
“I got you. You’re mine, and I GOT you.”
This moment of connection is very important (End baby references…).
You need this moment for your idea to move forward. Without these feelings of excitement mixed with the necessity to grow a pair, your idea will whither and die.
And that will happen from time to time. Not every idea will fill you with passion when you have finally captured it. Sometimes you just needed the practice of capturing.
No big deal.
More ideas will come along and you will be aware and able to capture them easier and easier the more you do it until you find the one you fall in love with.
We are close to the end and I have a confession.
I told you connecting with your idea was the last step.
I also told you it was the hardest step.
(I’m going to counseling for my problem with compulsive lying. What are YOU doing to deal with YOUR neuroses!?!)
The last and most important and hugely difficult step can be summed up in 3 little words. Words that can inspire excitement and pure hatred at the same time. 3 little words that, depending on the time of day you hear them, may either lead to jumping for joy or jumping off a cliff (Helpful note for base jumpers: without a parachute…)
And now, without further ado, I present you with the last step:
**GET TO WORK!**
No matter how proud you are for learning how to be aware of, capture, and connect with ideas, it means little if you are not willing to put in the work of breathing life into your idea.
So buckle down and give the world your idea, not through hoping and dreaming, but through focused and intense work.
Hope and dream in one hand and take a dump… out to the trash… in the other and see which one fills up first…