Why you kill your own ideas

You’ve done this. You’ve thought of something that might be the Next Big Thing – or even is just the Thing You Long To Do. And you don’t do a thing about it so it just never happens. Since we’re writers and it’s often as if there is just something in the air, quite often it does happen and it does get done, just by someone else.

Fast Company writer Courtney Seiter claims there are typically six things that stop her, starting with this:

The No. 1 thing that keeps me from creating is that the idea doesn’t feel complete yet. It lacks something, or I need more examples, or I’m not sure if it’s clear.

A former editor of mine called these “glimmers”—a little spark of an idea, not fully formed but on the cusp of being something. Sometimes you need to let a glimmer sit for a while before it becomes a fully formed idea. Sometimes you can smush it together with a few other glimmers to make something.

The main thing is that idea glimmers need nurturing, which can be hard to do. When ideas are still developing, they can feel embarrassingly incomplete or tough to explain to others. What if my little glimmer is misunderstood or turns out to be nothing at all?

How to fix it: It may seem counterintuitive, but I’ve learned that this is the time to talk about ideas most, so they can grow from a glimmer to a real idea. You can even post it on social media to give it a quick test. So what if the idea might fail? I’ll be able to get feedback right away and know whether to keep thinking on my glimmer or let it go.

6 Ways Your Brain Tries to Kill Your Ideas and How to Fight Them – Courtney Seiter, Fast Company (18 August 2014)

The other five ways include ones you’ll recognise as well as I do: the idea is too hard, we’re too busy, we’re too distracted. The full piece is a meaty examination of these and more with a lot of good ideas for beating them or at least making it more of a fight.

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