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Drowning in a Sea of Creative Ideas

drowning in a sea of creative ideasSummer has unofficially begun here in the US. It’s a good time to talk about what to do if you are drowning in a sea of creative ideas.

If I had a finished piece for every idea and inspiration I had, I could fill the National Gallery of Art here in DC! I know you can relate. You and I both will always have more ideas than we could ever take action on. And to that I say – HOORAY!

Problems do arise, though, when ideas outweigh time, resources and even space. I’ve identified the top four issues that I’ve experienced, and I’m sure you’ll recognize them, too:

  1. Overwhelm – When there are so many things you want to do you can end up in overwhelm and do the unthinkable…..nothing.
  2. Fear – “What if I start on this one and it doesn’t turn out the way I expect? Then I’ve wasted my precious time and money on materials.” So there goes that idea…
  3. Regret – “If I work on this one, then I won’t be able to work on that one and what if I forget about the other great idea?”
  4. Flitting – While working on this really great idea another even greater one pops into your head and you abandon the first and start on the second. Nothing ever gets finished and you end up with a closet full of unfinished projects you have lost interest in.

So what’s an artist to do? How do you swim when you are drowning in a sea of creative ideas?

To save you from one or all of these situations, here are four life preservers I’m tossing out for you:

  1. Keep an idea catcher. It is inevitable that you will get many new ideas while you are working. Keep a note or sketchbook by your side so you can jot them down as you go, another small one in your car, another in your purse, and don’t forget one by your bed! You’ll be amazed at how catching those ideas frees up your attention to focus on the work at hand. P.S. Use your idea catcher 24 hours a day.
  2. Work on several things at a time. Who says you can only work on one thing at a time? Ideas need time to percolate, paint needs to dry, workspace shrinks and grows with each project. By having several things in the works at the same time, there’s always something to do, even at a moment’s notice and even in 5 minute snatches of time.
  3. Decide! Keep in mind that it’s the journey, not the end-result. Any art you choose to work on contributes to your success as an artist. Whether your purpose is to reduce stress or to propose an article to your favorite magazine, knowing why you are making your art gives you purpose and direction and conquers the inertia, fear and regret. You will benefit no matter what your purpose is. The biggest reward is the joy and physical well-being that results from creating.
  4. Have a goal in mind. If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll never get there. Not knowing why you create can prevent you from creating, even if you have a bazillion ideas. Knowing what you want from your art will help you decide what to work on and why.

Try these tips and stop drowning in a sea of creative ideas.

Above all, keep your head above water!

Comments

  1. Such a great article! This exactly what goes on with me! I spend hour after hour researching and learning and end up with a million different ideas. Then I sit down to work, with all my nice & hoarded art supplies, and I have no idea what to do. I have several art journals, of which not a single page is finished!

    So anyway, I am definitely liking all your thoughts and ideas. I’m glad I found your site – finally someone that understands! 🙃 🖤