Do Ideas Come First or Second?

Do Ideas Come First or Second?

Sometimes there are so many ideas, they’re like a bowl of popcorn while watching tv at night, who cares if a few fall between the cushions, plenty to go around!

Other times, ideas are like your underwear drawer when you’ve forgotten to do the laundry. Uh oh!

When there are lots of ideas to go around, and you are acting on some of these ideas, then you can take ideas for granted. A dime a dozen. What a wonderful state of affairs. But just like a bowl of popcorn is easily consumed, ideas can suddenly be in short supply. You can find yourself digging through the couch cushions and looking hard at that stale kernel, wondering if something can be made from it.

I feel like I am in that state and I am wondering what happened? Where did all the ideas go?

I know exactly what happened! I stopped drawing.

I haven’t made an abstract since before Thanksgiving. Sure, I diddled around a bit in my little book and that kept things from a taking a radical turn, but I haven’t committed to a drawing in more than a week and now I have no ideas.

So, here’s my thesis, ideas are the result of actions. We tend to think it’s the opposite, that ideas come first, and actions follow, like, I have an idea to make cake. Now I am eating cake. How cool!

But that’s not really an idea, it’s an impulse. Doesn’t matter, ideas and impulses are almost the same and good ideas need a lot of impulse embedded in them. That’s why we have all sorts of grand ideas that never manifest. It doesn’t matter how cool your space colony concept is, you’ll never in a million years have enough impulse. Elon Musk might have enough impulse but who cares, back to cake.

While you’re mixing the batter, you may have an idea about adding crushed pistachios (that sounds good!) or adding green food coloring to the pistachio frosting, or maybe shaping the whole thing like a frog. Ideas need a portal to come through, that portal is the thing already happening. If you want ideas, start doing the thing.

The main reason I draw so often is because I want to keep my channel open. I want to have lots of ideas. I am greedy and I like to find lost ideas tucked into the couch. That happened with my last post. I had written the title and first two sentences only, saved it and moved on. I had no memory of doing that, a stray thought that came into my head, probably while doing the dishes, but I quickly captured it because that’s another thing about ideas, they have a very short life span unless you plant them. They waft in on the wind and they will waft out just as quickly unless you write them down, or draw them out, or in some way place them in the world of action.

I have to go draw now.



I write for two audiences, you and me.

For you I edit my stuff rigorously. If you’re bothering to come over here and see what’s up, I want you to feel rewarded. So, I try to keep it tight, focused and upbeat. I regularly eliminate meandering paragraphs and I only keep complaints if they are very funny. I wish I could be funnier. I try but funny is a hard thing.

Content wise, I write for myself. I need a lot of encouragement. Not just a mega dose every month, but many little bits and bobs of you-can-do-it-ness throughout the day. I am a never-ending cheerleader for myself. Not to promote myself, but to keep myself going, to be the kind of person other people can stand to be around. So almost all my content comes from this place. A place of internal encouragement. I want to be happy. I want to be a source of happiness. This is me figuring that out.

Making art is one of my top ways to keep myself sane so that’s why I write about it so much. There are so many ways to be creative and I don’t have a universal system. I don’t know if what I do will work for anyone else. But I love thinking about it. Also, I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s nice that my monkey mind will get stuck in this particular eddy because it’s not unpleasant. Way WAY better than thinking about worldwide current events.

My number one all-time best creative practice is keeping a blank notebook and bringing it with me when I go somewhere. I feel like this deserves its own essay so stay tuned! And thank you for being here. It’s very nice to see you!

Sidewalk Face 762

Heads up! I added two new menu categories, Humor and Creative Process. This is an easy way to see some of my better posts if you are new here.

Anatomy of an Idea – Beach Day Valentine

Anatomy of an Idea – Beach Day Valentine

This is how I came to write the previous blog post, Beach Day Valentine.

#1 Go to the beach many times and love it.

As of this sentence I have not written Beach Day Valentine (though you may have read it). I wrote this essay first. We will come back to that. Let’s go chronologically.

#2 Have the thought, while at the beach, of writing a blog post about the beach.

This is the least controllable part. You either have an initiating thought or you don’t. It’s the next step that you have control over and is critical to manifesting.

#3 Immediately take a few photos to illustrate the blog post.

If you have a good idea, it’s best to act on it as soon as possible. Any action will be more fruitful than no action. You can’t do anything with nothing, but you can add to something. Waiting never helps. Doing something is always best. If it’s fun, it doesn’t even take effort. That’s why I like both art and exercise to be fun. Much better chance of something happening.

#4 Look at the photos and choose the ones I want to use.

This gets my creative juices flowing. Looking at photos is way easier than writing. The images remind me of what I want to say.

#5 Start the post and write the title.

I start with Beach Day. Then I write the following sentence. This is not a very interesting title, but it doesn’t need to be. Beach Days are the best.

Dud title and a dud first sentence!

Oh well! I have to start somewhere. I persevere hoping things will improve. I write a bit more and give up. I am not even close to saying what I want to say. Somehow, I am saying a bunch of stuff I definitely don’t want to say. Writing is weird.

I have a new idea. I think I should stick with my first idea but the new idea is really compelling me, so I act on it.

#6 Start writing this second blog post, the one you are reading now.

Both frustrated that I wasn’t getting down to business with the post I was supposed to be writing and excited by my new idea, writing about the writing process, I start this post. Now I have two posts with titles and a few paragraphs.

#7 Finish and publish Beach Day Valentine.

A day later I write the whole thing. I still don’t have a better idea for the title. I’m on the verge of just accepting a boring title. I write a final paragraph (one that got removed) and in it I use the phrase Beach Day Valentine. That’s it!

This happens to me a lot. I am not sure how the whole thing will land or if it will land. I only figure it out while doing the activity. I just write and write and write, and edit and edit and edit, until it all comes together. It’s usually at the very end, after several rounds of editing, that the ending becomes clear. I never know the ending at the beginning.

The beginning is always only a hunch, an itch, a maybe.

#8 Come back to this post to see if it’s actually interesting or was only a stupid diversion.

Ideas begat ideas. It’s fun to explore them, to act swiftly and without thinking. Not in real life, that’s dangerous, but in one’s creative life it’s more than okay, it’s the whole thing.