When youâ€™re the one in an organization or team or universe who generates the â€œfirst draft/concept/ideaâ€ for things, youâ€™ll see yourself in this post right away. There can be a lot of pressure in this role – mostly because before thereâ€™s any â€œthereâ€ there, no one has anything to react to. But once youâ€™ve put thought to paper / idea to prototype / color to design / post to publish / paint to canvas, people feel free to criticize, analyze, metabolize – suddenly thereâ€™s a conversation (that wasnâ€™t happening before you started it.). I know Iâ€™ve sometimesÂ felt resentment over this position – other times (most times, actually) I expect it and enjoy it.Â But someone has to start somewhere, and if thatâ€™s you, thereâ€™s a certain excitement / burden around it.
You may find yourself occasionally wondering if thereâ€™s anything left to say, to create, to make, to express.Â Looking atÂ nothingÂ before you makeÂ somethingÂ can be intimidating as hell. As a professional writer, Iâ€™m usually the first one. The team often waits until I generate the strategy document, the concept, the copy, the taglineâ€¦and then base their work on some foundation using that work. Sometimes this feels fine – totally natural. Other times Iâ€™ve wonderedâ€¦is there anything left in here?!?!? What can I say that hasnâ€™t been said?
A few tips I try to give myself when Iâ€™m scraping bottom of the barrel:
Aim low. Land high.Â This is something Tim Ferris and others also use to get out of consternation and into production. A scientist at Stanford uses flossing teeth as the analogy. Want to floss more? Start with your front teeth only. Soon youâ€™ll realize how lame this goal really is, and youâ€™ll be a flosser in no time. When it comes to ideas and creative, just generate bottom of the barrel – knowingly – and let it iterate. Ferris talks about â€œtwo crappy pages a dayâ€ when writing a book. Itâ€™s good advice because by setting the bar low, you canâ€™t help but do better. And then better. And soon reallyÂ freakingÂ good. But aiming for â€œopusâ€ out of the gate is a set up to disappoint yourself.
Reach in. Not out.Â I think a lot of us imagine our creative ideas and energies live somewhere outside of us. This is a myth. Everything youâ€™ve seen, read, experienced, cried about, laughed about, wowâ€™ed about, been about – is in your ecosystem of ideas. Your source material is you – and everything youâ€™re connected to in the current of collective thought and divine (if I might)… energy. Believe that itâ€™s inside you, not outside you – and start there. Thereâ€™s so much less mileage involved when you start with yourself instead of trying to go to the moon and back.
Great copy, great ideas, great products start as seeds from somewhere – where they end up is up to you. Your mindÂ is a well of creativity thatâ€™s never really in danger of running dry. Your machine needs to rest to churn it out, but itâ€™s not going anywhere. Itâ€™s one of the only assets that when spent, just keeps growing. To use it is to multiply it.