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Your first idea is rarely your best

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Scott Adams

Crumpled piece of paper illustrating an idea not yet successfully finished.
In our brains, our first idea usually seems fully formed until they crash up against reality, that is.

Our brains are amazing things; we can very quickly build entire ecosystems inside there, ones that seem fully formed and perfect. We can be so convinced of their perfection that we often don't feel the need to test it early on. But reality usually has different ideas, ones that force real-world tests on our supposedly brilliant thoughts.

The problem is that our brains are not great at looking at complex thoughts in the round*. Often, our failure to be aware of unknown combinations causes the damage; we rely too much on our assumptions. Anyone who's tried to hang shelves while only measuring the width of an alcove at the top comes to a crashing halt because the bottom part is a slightly different measurement. Not for nothing do they say, "Measure twice, cut once."

“If you don't give yourself enough time for a redo, we're often left with a half-baked idea that never had a chance to grow into the best version of itself”

Even those who are used to creating are often totally seduced by their own thoughts, falling into the constant trap of thinking their great idea will roll out fully formed. So if the experienced amongst us fall into this trap, where does that leave those who are just starting out on a new creative path?

The first idea is only a start

There can be no doubt that long experience often means that ideas come out much more ready to hit the road, but they are never perfect, ever. Even the most brilliant of thoughts need tweaking, and our creative brain needs time to grasp how the core concept must be manipulated. Start by thinking this is only a start; the fully finished product is still a while down the road.

Give yourself time to fully develop the idea, start early on it

While deadlines are great, and they certainly have a way of focusing the mind on completing a task, if they are too tight, there may not be enough fermenting time. In many ways, our first thoughts are just sparks, ones that only work once they hit fresh air.

The real pursuit of a creative idea starts once it's exposed to reality, and the sooner, the better. How soon? That depends. The more complex the work, the more time is needed, but even simple ideas benefit from being sketched, assembled, or worked on as early as possible. To be more fully creative, we need to get our brains focused on the thought, and that takes time.

It's never too early to start on a concept or idea; in fact, the creative process demands it.

Why not give it a try?

*In the round – in complete detail; from all aspects.

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