Give Your Idea A Chance

You get a idea. Any idea. Might be the germ of something that might turn into something great. Might be nothing. You want to work it out, see if it’s going to grow into something, or collapse like a bad soufflé.

Boom, a fork in the road. Two universes diverge.

Path one. You think about it whilst you’re mowing the lawn. A couple things occur to you and you realize that actually the first idea you had was OK, but really it’s just part of a larger idea. That larger idea is something you haven’t ever considered. It seems pretty fresh. You ponder it some more, think of a couple nice analogies that help explain the concept. Later, at dinner, you run it past your wife. “Hmm, that’s true,” she says, “and also here’s another relevant parallel, from my point of view as a woman.” (She doesn’t really talk like that because she’s not a robot, but bear with me.)

That evening, as you’re reading before bed, a line you read strikes you as being interestingly phrased. The opening line of a piece on your idea springs into your head. The next day you type it out, and then — like magic — the rest of the piece just sort of follows. Your idea has blossomed, like a butterfly, in the protective cocoon of your mind.

Path two. You google it. Turns out somebody wrote about something kinda similar in 2009. Huh. Oh well.

I am too often guilty of choosing the latter path. So many of my ideas die before they have a chance.

Googling your ideas can be toxic. Sure, if you don’t, then sometimes you’re going to cover the same ground that someone else already has. But the process of developing an idea internally, giving it space to grow, can lead to the occasional gem. You’ll never know, if you close off a line of thought every time it seems not entirely unique.

Let your ideas flourish, even if they seem to be rooted in the mundane! Even the most beautiful flower has to start in the dirt, after all.