Make Everybody Be Twins

For people who consider themselves creatives, it’s quite rare that good ideas fall out of the heavens full cloth, uninterrupted by lesser iterations in between.

In reality, one may come up with a snippet, a wisp, a hint of something that may one day lead to something great. But that will include an entire process of building upon that hint, expanding upon it, adding other hints to it, erasing, painting over, and even starting again entirely before quality work becomes what it is in the end.

To complicate things even further, those little wisps come in the midst of other wisps as well. These are lesser wisps, pretending to be something better than they are, hoping that you’ll choose them instead only to find that doing so leads to malformed abominations that should never see the light of day.

Still, it’s difficult to differentiate between the better snippets and the lesser ones. One may need time to sift through them.

That’s why I’ve taken to keeping a pocket-sized notebook with me at nearly all times. It’s my scratch pad in which I write down whatever comes to mind and whatever I need help keeping track of. Sometimes I just need to write a to-do list or to remember a notable quote that I want to transcribe into my journal later. At other times, I get an idea for a blog post or a podcast episode or something to put in a book, and my notebook becomes a convenient repository to revisit later when I have more time to mull it over.

Sometimes these lead to something worthwhile. Other times, they’re left on the scratch page never to be heard from again.

The latter for me always brings to mind a scene from the movie Baby Mama where Tina Fey’s character talks about a notebook she keeps on her bedside table for when she gets an idea in the middle of the night. “And then I wake up,” she says, “and I have these little notes that say things like, ‘make everybody be twins’ and ‘electric toilet.'”

Not everything I jot into my notebook is worth pursuing. Sometimes ideas that I have for posts or episodes are the equivalent of “make everybody be twins,” and they don’t see the light of day.

But figuring out which is which is an important part of the creative process. Sometimes you don’t know until you begin to work with one for a while. And then you’re either back to the beginning or you’re moving toward something good.

Writing down the wisps and hints is the first step.

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