(re)Thinking on Your Feet
[This is part 7 in the ongoing Fuck the Muse mini-series.]
Sometimes you have a great idea for a project, or one aspect of a project, and you throw everything at it, but the idea turns out to be a dud. You can’t ditch the project after putting so much into it, but neither can you force it through. The only way forward is to take a step back.
When I started writing this blog series in November, I was in a hurry to post articles right away — ignoring everything I know about good process. I posted a few pressing thoughts, and then tried to write my way through the 5-step process from one end to the other.
It didn’t work, and each post is now taking me longer and longer to write, with more frustration than the last. I’ve written this post 4 times now, each time on different topics.
Starting from an outline can be comforting, but it’s not possible to organize material you don’t yet have, and you end up pushing yourself off in the wrong direction. That’s where I went wrong.
Play it Again
I skipped a step, and now I have to go back and do it right.
It’s time to gather all my material and see what I have, generate more ideas, scrap the failures, and rearrange what’s left into articles. This may take some time, but once that is done I should be able keep up a regular posting schedule.
Lucky for me, none of my failed posts are wasted effort. They all work towards the goal I should have started with: collecting material. I have a recycling bin for every project — a file or folder to catch all the scraps as I work. Now I have a substantial start on what I need: my very own "Fuck the Muse" shitty pile of shit.
Related ‘fuck the muse’ Articles
Fuck the Muse pt.5: Now that you have a seed worth exploring, you are ready for step 2 of the creative process. The goal of this phase is explosive growth, following your curiosity out from the seed in every direction. What is the content? What materials will you need to build this artwork? What already exists, and what will you need to build? What will be your inspirations? What will be your constraints?
You can’t start working until you know what you are working towards. That doesn’t mean knowing all the answers, it means knowing the questions that will guide you. I refer to those guiding questions as the "seed" of a project.
Cycles have become the core of my creative process. Thinking in cycles means I always know where I am and where I’m going, even when I feel overwhelmed by the size of a project. If I’m stuck, it’s time for a new mindset. If my last move was to zig, my next move is to zag.
Kirby Ferguson argues that the three basic techniques of remixing (copy, transform, combine) form the foundation of all creative process. He refers to these techniques as the "Elements of Creativity"…
We think of creativity as sudden, sexy, inexplicable moments of inspiration — ignoring the hard work that makes those moments possible.