Creative Mondays #005 – Keep you plans secret.


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.

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4 thoughts on “Creative Mondays #005 – Keep you plans secret.”

  1. Hi Grant. I tend to blab a lot on half-baked ideas or elevator pitches. I’ll tell them to anyone, but usually its folks that have a vague understanding of the content or medium. Their initial reaction is helpful. What’s probably more informative however, is how I feel. If I’m spending a lot of time verbalizing what I want to do and justifying it to them, that’s a good indicator that I haven’t found the core. The pitch is a bit of a performance and if I’m not feeling it, I can put the idea down and investigate it later. If they get invested, I can usually tease out what hooked and develop from there. Talking helps me through the very early creative process. If I don’t talk, then I dwell on those ideas. They take up mindshare and distract from productive work. For context, my go-forward rate is around 1 in 10. I usually tell 3-7 people.

    1. Mike- thanks for chiming in. I didn’t think of this perspective a dim glad you brought it up. I’ll be aware of the justifying aspect of it next time I’m telling someone one of my hair-brained ideas. Thanks agin for replying. 🙂

  2. This is a great thing to bring up, Grant. A lot of advice out there tells you to tell people to hold you accountable, to make sure you accomplish your project. That works great for weigh-loss programs; not so much for creative projects.

    I find if I share an idea for a project with my husband and he gives his ideas on how to do it, I have to explain why I don’t use his ideas and then have to explain the reasons I didn’t. At that point I feel like I don’t have his support or approval and unfortunately, makes the project wither in my own eyes. I’m sure he thinks I’m living a secret life when all of a sudden I show him new domain names I’ve bought and blogs I’ve written. I just can’t have him “help” me.

    The time to ask is if you need specific technical help or a second set of eyes to find flaws. I did that for my Modern Dog Gates logo. I have friends who are graphic artists and I asked their opinion of the completed logo. One found a visual mistake which I corrected and the other gave me all sorts of encouragement. Perfect!

    1. Julie- Yes! Asking for help is a great time to share. And I totally get what you’re saying about people feeling hurt their ideas weren’t used. I have a close friend who I often bounce things off of and she’s very quick about giving her thoughts. Sometimes I use them and sometimes I don’t and, luckily, she understands when I don’t. Thanks for your perspectives! 🙂

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