99 Ideas

Posted by : E.v.R. | On : October 13, 2005


My first ideas are usually my worst. It’s that little thing called the path of least resistance. When trying to do or create something, the first idea that pops into mind for me is the most obvious, cliché, ridiculous piece of garbage. So is usually the second thought, and the third.

My best ideas usually come after a long time struggling with some problem, and reading, researching, coping, dealing and a great deal of frustration. And then after I’ve gorged myself on a delicacy of related material, suddenly an idea pops into mind. I call this The Last Idea. When I get the Last Idea, it truly is the last. I’ve worked hard enough, rejected enough silly and lazy thoughts that the last one truly pulls its weight, or is worth its weight.

I criticize the work of others a lot, sometimes too much. Usually what drives and motivates me to critique is the feeling that the creator did something that *I* tend to do from time to time, a thing I do, or habit I have which annoys me.

Yes, I’m a hypocrite.

I know my worst ideas are the first that pop into mind. Therefore, I think it’s a safe assumption that a lot of people create based on their first ideas because it’s easy, because it feels natural.

This is one area where I don’t trust my muse at all. Your muse can lead you inspiring places. But your muse can also lead you down dead end paths. Sometimes your muse will tell you to run with the first idea.

The rigors of research and true creative synthesis aren’t easy, nor do they feel very natural. You slog away through books, magazines, movies, comics, or other media to sometimes feel like you’re merely wasting your time.

You’re not wasting your time.

Out of 99 ideas the crap is at the front, number one. 99 is golden.

Reject the first idea!

Comments (3)

  1. Jack Monahan said on 13-10-2005

    The “last idea” isn’t necessarily the best, nor the first the worst, or at least not with all processes… for some reason I think people are too lazy or somehow scared to lose what they think is a good idea, and stop once they think they’ve got one. Why? Take thumbnailing a design as an artist, which is something I do a lot. I agree, most of the time that my first approach to a design is not usually my best. Sometimes it is. The crucial distinction is that I can only know that it’s the best relative to the other thumbnails–without comparison, it’s difficult to gauge just how good of an idea it may be. When I’m drawing say a batch of 6 thumbnails for a design, I can feel pretty confident that number 5 is the best, but then when I take a step back at look at all 6 sitting together, design 2 is the clear winner.

    So no, I don’t think Idea 1 is the worst and 99 is the best necessarily–but what is certainly true is that having 99 different options and comparisons allows you to better survey what’s really quality and what isn’t.

  2. redchurch said on 13-10-2005

    I was speaking mostly in the context of writing. When you’re in the heat of it, you’re not stopping to examine all the ideas… you’re just pouring them out on the page. So by default, they’re the First Ideas.

    Some would say that’s what the 2nd draft is for, but you can’t really correct *core* ideas in the 2nd draft. If it’s something pivotal to the story you’ll end up doing a rewrite instead of just an editing pass.

    But yeah… for other things it could be #1… the probability isn’t very high for that though. ;)

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