Stop Worrying About Making It Look Perfect


Has someone ever asked you how you are doing, not just as a glorified “hello” but in true interest, and you don’t even know where to begin?

That feeling is magnified when you’re a creator of any kind – a writer, preacher, communicator, artist, leader – because it’s your job to be able to put a frame on the images of life so that others can make sense of what’s going on.

Clarity is something we can all agree with in the abstract, but actual day-to-day clarity can seem near impossible. Maybe that’s why the global consulting market is valued at $250 billion. People are willing to pay big for someone to tell them what matters.

I spend a lot of time talking about ideas on this blog. Here’s a recent post on the creative process and here’s one on finding good ideas. I advocate that greatness happens when you separate the creative process from needed results. In my experience, separating idea generation from problem solving results in both better problem solving, and a wealth of incredible ideas.

If you’re designing for a specific result, it’s a heckuva a lot harder to achieve a great idea from scratch, on demand, than when you’re already in the habit of collecting great ideas into a bin and then sorting through the bin to look for something specific.

The only problem with this approach to creativity is that sometimes your bin of creative goodies can get too full. Writing this sounds pathetic, like I’m complaining about owning too much stock in Facebook on the day they launch a new algorithm. The beauty of wealth in any form, whether financial or creative, is that it gives you options. But you’ve got to know how to manage these options.

Now that I have discovered a better way to generate creative ideas, my next problem is prioritizing and using good ideas like the assets they are.

I knew a friend who’d been working on a book for 12 years. He had a contract in hand. The publisher was waiting for a manuscript. But the author, who’d published previous works, was so caught up in it being just right – comprehensive, without error, whatever “right” means – that he never turned a manuscript in. He missed several deadlines. Finally the publisher cancelled the contract.

When you’ve got a good idea, and you’re using it and it’s developing, the temptation is to hold on to it until you can get it completely sorted out and organized for consumption.

This is another form of self-glory, one of the lies that steals creativity, because it’s a self-protection mechanism that convinces you about your own hero status.

It’s better to publish than to publish perfectly.

Like take the post for instance. It needs an editor. So what. My insistence on making it look great has been killing me, so I am just hitting publish. Forget about it.

Stop worrying about organizing your thoughts just right. You’re hitting a moving target anyway. If it slows to a stop, it’s probably not living. So capture it where you can. Giving the world a glimpse of your creative idea, no matter how imperfect, is better than giving them nothing at all.

 

About the Author

Len Wilson

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Christ follower. Storyteller. Strategist. Writer. Creative Director at St Andrew. Tickle monster. Author, Think Like a Five Year Old (Abingdon).

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