Did you know… The most creative ideas you will ever have often slip by without capturing them. Why? Because we have nearly 60,000 thoughts a day, that’s about 2500 thoughts per hour, and that’s just too much input for anyone to fathom.
A lot of those thoughts fall into the category of habits. You have some on autopilot like brushing your teeth, making coffee, reading your email. But your spontaneous creative thoughts can get lost forever, and suddenly you spiral into another world of distraction.
All things were once creative thoughts! Imagine if Steve Jobs had ignored the idea for an iPhone, or Truman Capote never sat down to write the story ruminating in his head for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” or Sara Blakely had never invented Spanx (more about this billion-dollar idea later)!
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, believes creativity is magical, and I agree. I highly recommend her book, Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear, where she shares her concept of how creativity functions.
Elizabeth says ideas are out there floating in the universe, just like pollen or bacteria. They are “disembodied, energetic life-forms that are floating, and just waiting for the right impulse to be manifested.”
What is the right impulse? You… acting on that impulse and taking the next step. Whether it’s sitting down to write, brainstorming for your business, outlining a new program. However, creativity shows up in your life; you are now called forward to take command.
“It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
That’s collaboration with the universe!
It can happen in a flash when you think of something and then push it aside, thinking you’ll remember it later. Don’t trust that the idea will stay with you forever.
That’s why you must act fast! Just yesterday, on my walk, I had a great idea for an article and…. poof! It was gone, and I still haven’t recaptured it
There are ways you can prevent this from happening. You implement the process of “notebooking” or “journaling.” It’s a way of capturing and cataloging creative ideas into a memory bank where you can ignite them at any time.
Goals and dreams have much more power when you write them down.
Why? Because the thought turns into an idea that has energy as it’s transformed into words on paper.
Now the idea is visible. Then, you take those words, expand on them, start the action, and take the very next step toward bringing those ideas to life.
Creativity is as much about commitment as it is the inspiration. Inspiration alone does not make your creativity happen.
“If you do say yes to an idea, now it’s showtime.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
Once you say yes, your job is to take the inspiration a step further and make it a commitment. This is where you can sabotage yourself. Your mind starts to ask all kinds of silly questions like, “why me?” “Who am I?” “Am I really capable?”
Don’t listen to that little inner chatter that is trying to derail you. You’ve got bigger fish to fry.
Imagine if the creator of Spanx, Sara Blakely, had said “no” to her idea of creating an undergarment for women that made them feel more beautiful and confident.
Sara was selling fax machines door to door in Florida. She wore business-appropriate clothing daily, and that included pantyhose.
One evening, she was getting ready for a party and pulled out a pair of expensive long white pants. She never wore them because she could never figure out what to wear underneath, so the panty lines didn’t show.
Bam! Her inspired idea came flying in from the universe… “cut off the feet from a pair of pantyhose and wear under the slacks.”
Thus, her multi-billion-dollar business was born. (She shares this story on “How I Built This” podcast with Guy Raz)
And… I’m so glad she followed through! If you’re like me, you’ve got at least one Spanx product in your closet!
Sara’s story is the perfect example of going after that little whisper of an idea and creating something beyond your wildest dreams. (she also loves sharing motivational tips on Instagram!)
Are you a writer who isn’t writing (what about starting a blog or writing a book)? Are you a weekend gardener who’d love to have your own flower farm (check out @floretflower on Instagram)? Are you a pasta lover who’d like to do pasta-making videos (@the-pastaqueen)? Are you longing to write and record songs (Billie Eilish started out uploading songs on SoundCloud!).
Today, there are more possibilities for the average person to be seen and fulfill their dreams because of the internet.
Now, here are some ideas to start your creative juices flowing with a commitment between you and the universe.
It all begins with that one idea.
Create a contract with yourself to listen. Let your notebook become your new best friend. Make a commitment to visit it every day, ready to write everything that comes to mind. Sometimes the ideas are nothing but your mind sorting through things, but it’s making way for new thoughts and creative explosions.
Determine your writing space, beverage of choice, music, light a candle. You’re setting the stage to allow the universe to connect with you. How do you do that? You use the “talking with a friend” method. Pretend you’re sitting with a friend and begin with, “You know, I was just thinking about…” Expand on that thought and see where it takes you!
Make a commitment to following through with one idea at a time. Explore it, feel it, envision it. Is it the right idea for you? You’ll know by the level of excitement you feel.
Just take the very next step. You don’t have to know the whole picture. Sara Blakely’s first step was to research patents on pantyhose. Then, her next step was to walk into her local Neiman Marcus and ask the sales associate if she’d ever thought women would want something like footless pantyhose to wear undergarments. The sales associate replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!”
Lesson here, just take the next step and the next. And… don’t give up.
Rejection doesn’t mean “no!” It simply means “not yet.”-Jack Canfield Author, Chicken Soup for the Soul and Success Principles
Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen were turned down 147 times for their Chicken Soup for the Soul book. They kept hearing, “collections of short stories don’t sell,” and “we don’t like the title.” But after 2 years, they finally found a publisher, and the book was on the New York Times Best Seller List for 3 years and continues to sell as a brand worth more than 100 million!
In his article, Dare to Ask for What You Want, Canfield suggests you set aside time to come up with three things you could ask for that help you achieve your goal/dream/idea. Then take the next step and ask.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to ask for what you want, but I’ve learned it’s now or never. Too many things get shoved into the “someday” category and they never get fulfilled.
Give yourself a reward after each successful step (dinner out, a new workout top, a great bottle of wine). According to Cornell Research, “one way to increase your interest in a task is to add immediate rewards, rather than wait until the end to reward yourself.”
Start dreaming of what you would like as the big reward for completing something that really matters to you.
After completing my last book, my husband and I took a trip to France to celebrate! It was a dream I’d had, tucked away for just the right time.
Your commitment to writing your ideas and goals down is the key to unlocking your great big ideas for the future.
Why write instead of dictating into a phone? It doesn’t matter how you capture your ideas, as long as you do it. The universe has just sent you a message, and you need to claim it as yours.
Want to learn more about “Notebooking” to capture your next big idea? Here’s an article I wrote about it in Start It Up: 10,000 Ideas in Your Pocket.
Keep a small notebook beside your bed, in your bathroom, in the kitchen, in your office, and in your car. You can get a 6-pack of small softcover Pocket Notebooks online that slip neatly into a purse or side pocket of your car.
Do you have ideas that land on you like a butterfly? It gets your momentary attention as it flutters around, and then you forget about it. But what if you captured it and put the idea in motion?
I have ideas that consistently come into my mind while exercising, working, etc. They tell me what I should talk write about. They give me great lines for my books. They tell me how to handle difficult conversations. They tell me where to put my attention next.
Consider this, what if that idea doesn’t back down. What if that idea is asking you for a date in the future, where you will look back and say… ahhhh… I’m so glad that idea came to me.
This all boils down to committing to your creative destiny. We are all creative. We are born that way.
I’m certain if you’re reading this, your creative calling is asking for your attention now. It’s up to you to fulfill it; others have done it and so can you!
I love helping people discover the creative process. Here’s a gift: 7 Mindset Strategies for the Writer. I will also send you occasional emails to inspire you on your creative journey!
This article was originally posted in Medium.