Here’s a new rule of work: When it comes to ideas and creativity, spend what you have. Spend it all. This is one of the most valuable rules I learned from a friend (I can’t claim originality on this one). I used to wonder whether I should hold back my best ideas, when it came to blogging, or when it came to whatever piece I’m writing, in case I’ll need something to draw upon later, or because I might be wasting something I’ll want to market later, and there’s only so much brilliance that’ll come (let’s have no false modesty – most of us have at least a few brilliant ideas, don’t we?). The thing about ideas and creativity is that, if you’re continually growing, continually staying open, constantly feeding the engine, exploring, thinking, looking, learning, living, they come from an inexhaustible source. You’re not going to run out of fuel, you’re note going to tap out dry. This isn’t just about writing, it’s about a lot of things. I’m not saying you don’t protect some ideas, such as a business idea that you need to keep a lid on, just that you don’t hold back on spending all you got, when it’s time to spend. In other words, give what you’re doing your best damned work, or else you’re doing the wrong thing right now, and you should go work on the thing you’re worried about maybe doing some day.
Sometimes my ideas come in spurts. I’ll have 3-5 really solid ideas that I can implement for blog posts (you may know I blog professionally for several businesses). It seems directly related to how much I’m stimulated by news reports, film, or other things. Instead of holding back some of these, I spend them as fast as I can. The goal is to get them off my plate, so there’s room for new ideas. In blogging, conservatism doesn’t pay.
More will come. More will always come, if I keep spending, and keep fueling, and keep spending. I was born for this. What were you born for?
Besides, I think it’s partly that confidence, the confidence that I can spend, that more will come, that makes it more likely that more will come. I think it affects receptivity (in other words, I think if you don’t spend, your mind starts to close off to new things, because the current things aren’t going to good and immediate use), and I think spending like that – cavalierly, if you like – also spurs the creative synapses – creation induces creativity, if creativity is involved in your work. Incidentally, I’ve never seen work that didn’t involve creativity – I’ve only seen work that people weren’t being creative in, about, or with. If you don’t challenge it, it stays unchallenged.
In this department, I get to be a millionaire. Isn’t that neat? A playboy thinker and writer. My currency is thought. I can spend like I don’t have to worry about where more is coming from. It just will come. Ideas are the one area you can go out on a limb, and not worry about credit or paying it back, as long as you keep feeding the engine. When you put yourself in a stifling environment, take away the stimulus, isolate yourself from doing something with your ideas, from creating, building, brainstorming, and collaborating with people who do the same, the engine starts to sputter, and that’s when you should worry. But stay hotly fueled, and you can be like those detectives in the movies who never seem to run out of bullets.
“You’re out of ideas!” No, I’ve got one of those detective movie brains, buddy. It holds limitless rounds. Where can you get one? You gotta make your own. And so on. Meanwhile, never stop pulling the trigger on what you’ve got.