Idea Debt

I came across this great article about idea debt from Jessica Abel– by the way if you are interested at all in creativity I highly recommend her podcast, I came in at the end of the season and have gone back to the beginning, it’s that good.

Idea Debt is when you spend too much time picturing what a project is going to be like, too much time thinking about how awesome it will be to have this thing done and in the world, too much time imagining how cool you will look, how in demand you’ll be, how much money you’ll make. And way too little time actually making the thing.

I guess it’s a variation that done is better than perfect. I heard that phrase again from a client the other day and I got home and hand lettered it in pencil into my journal, then inked it, coloured it etc. It wasn’t until I was rubbing out the pencil lines a couple of hours later that I had missed the ‘c’ from ‘perfect’. So my lovely piece has a massive mistake in it, which I corrected by inserting the ‘c’. I laughed when I noticed it, what a great lesson!

But the point is, if you want for the perfect situation you will never get it done. Not least because the idea of perfection is so overwhelming that you can’t start, let alone finish. And here’s the real secret – perfection doesn’t exist – shh!

Often when we think about creative projects they become huge in our mind – we won’t be happy until this massive THING is created, which will take hours and hours and hours. Sometimes we need to take time to assess what it is that we actually want from the creative project and what will make us happy – and quite often it’s not as big as we think.

But spending more and more time thinking about a project and not actually doing the work? That’s idea debt and it carries guilt with it. What can you do to actually start the project? Do you want to write about a particular topic? Well set up a blog and get on and do it. Don’t wait until you have figured out how to make a beautiful, swish website, go with the bare bones and learn as you go – just do it. You can even get help.

Can you break it down into smaller chunks and just take the first step – remember you don’t need to know the whole journey or path, just the next little step. If you want to do a podcast, record it on your phone, and edit it in Audacity. DOn’t worry about expensive equipment, fancy logo or adding in a jingle to the beginning and the end. Just start with the basics, once you’ve figured that out move onto the next stage.

The point is once you start to move on your creative projects you will continue to get ideas, you will come across information that will help you, tell people you are doing this project – not least because they can hold you accountable, but many people will then keep their ears and eyes open for you on that topic and send things across to you.

However it goes, it’s got to be better than all the time you spend thinking about the project and not actually doing it and the associated guilt – right?!

If you want some help on getting a creative project done or developing a creative practice, you can book coaching sessions with me.

Join the conversation

1 Comment

  1. Whenever I have to do projects, I tend to give it a lot of thought, before I start writing things down. The problems that I have in doing projects are organization, time management, and writing them up, because I want to make sure that what I write makes sense in content, so the audience and proofreaders can understand what I am trying to say.

Leave a comment

Please leave a reply!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: