Here is the third installment of creative ideas I took away from seeing Joel Hodgson’s talk “Riffing Myself” in Northern California recently. I highly recommend going to see this show, even if you aren’t a fan of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. It’s a great show for anyone who is creative and, to me, gives great insight on how things, great things like Mystery Science Theatre 3000, are created. You can read the previous two blogs here: Don’t do what you don’t want to do & Nothing ever comes out done.
This final topic is actually a topic that I already have written on and was scheduled to come up soon here on the blog. I may touch upon it again in upcoming weeks, but I really waned to use Joel’s talk as a springboard to write on this idea. The idea of a creative idea book.
Joel told the story of taking a sculpture class in college where the instructor made all the students buy a big, black, hardbound sketch journal to use in the class. Joel thought the idea was a bit pretentious in that he felt he didn’t have any ideas worth putting into a hardbound journal, but it was a requirement so he picked one up. In his talk, Joel actually shows scans of the first two pages of the journal they are filled with ideas for different sculptures. Then he shows a scan of the third page where there are sculpture ideas on the top of the page and below is an, almost comical, mock up of a trick Joel wanted to create for his magic act. He then goes on to show other pages and, never again, were any of the pages adorned with sculpture ideas. From that page on it was ideas for things Joel wanted to create.
Joel calls this his Catalog of Ideas. He likens it to the old magician’s catalog he loved thumbing through as a kid. Full of wondrous things. Possibilities. Things that may happen of may not. His Catalog of Ideas was a storehouse of thoughts on things to create. Some he acted on immediately. Others lay dormant on the page, perhaps to be acted on in the future. He also spoke how, a lot of times, several different ideas in the Catalog would be combined together to create something completely different from anything else. He wrapped this part of the speech up by showing a picture of a closet, I’m assuming, in his office that is now full of large, black, hardbound sketch journals. His catalog of ideas. (Side Note: If you’re as big a fan of Joel’s as I am, wouldn’t you just love to thumb through those?)
So, a Catalog of Ideas. I have to admit, I don’t really keep one like the one Joel mentions in his talk. I think Joel is a lot more visual than I am where I prefer to write things out. Most times if I have an idea I will type it into the notes on my phone. Or I’ll just let it rattle around in my head until it’s so big I just have to act on it. I have recently been keeping a sort of idea journal. It has some ideas but it also has notes from meetings and classes, so it’s not strictly an idea journal. But you know what? I’m going to take it as a challenge to start a Catalog of Ideas of my own. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Again, I will plug Joel’s show. Go see it. For info visit his website here – www.JoelHodgson.com
Do you keep your own Catalog of Ideas? If so, how long have you done it? Tell us about it in the comments below. If you don’t keep one, how do you store all your creative ideas? Again, let me know below.
Keep your creative plans secret until they are completed.
This is a tough one and, though I believe in it and will explain why, it is a hard one for me to do.
The main reason you should attempt to keep your creative plans secret until you have completed them is because if you tell them to other people they will, no matter how well meaning they are, offer their opinion on your plans. You will get no end to unsolicited feedback on your idea.
“That’s a great idea!” they’ll inevitably start, but then they’ll continue, “You know what you should do…”
Now if the sentence above is coming from someone you admire or respect or whom you are asking for advice, that’s fine. If you admire or respect them or asked for their advice, that’s great, listen to their suggestions. Remember, though, these are suggestions.
The focus of this entry is about telling friends, peers, family about your plans. These folks like (love) and respect you and they think they’ll be helping you out by offering their advice. What happens then is that once you begin creating your art, the ‘advice’ that these people starts creeping into your head and you begin second guessing yourself.
“Maybe so and so was right. Maybe I should do it their way instead of the way I had planned.”
This becomes dangerous because suddenly the your art is not your own. It has become a community project. Nothing against community projects, they are great, but this is YOUR art project.
This is the number one reason I try to keep my ideas to myself. Notice I say try. It’s extremely hard to do. The main reason for blabbing is I get really excited about an idea and I want to share it with the world. I need to realize that it’ll be much better (and save me much second guessing) if I tell people after it’s done. Or better yet, show them. Writers often say ‘show don’t tell.’ I think that’s a great bit of advice that all artists can take about their own work. Get it done and THEN show somebody.
Another reason to keep mum about a project is because sometimes I talk so much about a project I never really get around to actually working on it. I know it sounds weird, but there’s something in the brain that will trick you into thinking, “Well I’ve talked about it so much, I must have done it.” When, in actuality, you haven’t done anything. Almost as if a little bit of the creative desire in you escapes each time you say something about it until you have no creative desire left to work on the project.
Finally, there is the thought of sharing your ideas with others before you do them and then someone steals your idea. I don’t think this happens as much as people are afraid it does, but it does happen, so it’s another good reason to just keep quiet about your project.
As artists, our main drive in life is to create something and then share it with the world. We should just think twice about sharing them before we’ve even begun creating them.
Do you fall into the same pitfalls as me and blab your project to everyone around you? Or do you thrive on getting other people’s opinions about your project? Let me know in the comments below.