Tidying Up the Creative Mind

I once gave a speech at a Toastmasters meeting years ago speaking on Maren’s Project Management System. It went something like this:

1. Latch onto one of a million ideas rattling around in my head.
2. Think about the idea/research/learn the skills to accomplish it.
3. Accumulate the gear to create it.
4. Actually creating it: optional.

Rinse and repeat.

Ideas can get trapped in the imagination. Why don’t they reach fruition? Fear of failure, fear of success, internal entropy, limits of resources and skills, and frankly, not all ideas deserve action. There are reams of research on what can block one’s ability to create. What I am interested in is getting rid of all the creative detritus knocking around in my brain. At times it is difficult to see through the fog of warring ideas.

Like millions of others, I became a fan of Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forever”. After transforming my clothing storage into, frankly, a thing of beauty, I considered that the same principals could be applied to the contents of my brain. At the heart of her organizing concept, unlike others who focus on what to discard, she focuses on what to keep–what “sparks joy”. And that is the concept I now apply to unrealized projects: design, music, writing, art, sewing, landscaping…if they don’t spark joy, they are out.

Certainly, easier said than banished, but I find that by fully examining each concept, I can discern the issues that have kept me from pursuing them, and, in fact, see that many of the dustier items are sadly out of date. Clearly, one shouldn’t hold on to a clothing design idea for 15 years.

A Very Effective Method to Eliminate Masticating Old Ideas

A novelist I know never discusses current or future projects. He believes “talking out” an idea is problematic: the mental image translated to verbal may loop back and change the original idea, it invites unwanted feedback and he may, overall, lose the original energy and motivation for the project.

Bingo! What he doesn’t want to do is exactly what I find is a way to eliminate ideas that don’t “spark joy”. All I have to do is share them. And when I find myself verbally stumbling over what I realize is no way to get from step one to step three, or see the dumbstruck face of my listener trying to comprehend the encompassing idiocy of a pet concept, well, it’s much easier to let them go.

I will never have a focused, disciplined mind. But how nice to have space for fresh ideas! Starting with redesigning the deck…

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Maren Giobbi enjoys a huge variety of creative projects (including playing the accordion) and has been Bill's creative partner and partner in life for 21 very happy years.
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8 Responses

  1. Jan Morgan

    I’m embarrassed to admit how much I took to heart from the Kondo book. It’s a work in progress, and probably always will be – both with my physical possessions and my cluttered brain! Loved the post, Maren, thanks! xoj

    • bgob1

      Thanks Jan- I’m surprised–you’ve always seemed so organized to me! I didn’t expect to like the Kondo book. I thought it would be yet another motivational one-size-fits-all instructional. But, she definitely approaches the subject differently. I’m a fan! I’ve only gotten through my clothes and bathrooms. Time to tackle jewelry.

  2. Veda

    Great post, Maren! I love your idea of taking the concept of “sparking joy” when organizing your home, to “sparking joy” in your mind. Such a great idea! It sparks joy just thinking about it!


    • bgob1

      We should spark joy in everything!

  3. Jeffrey Hall

    Well said Maren!

  4. Connie

    Maren- Ah Ha! Surely we are Sisters from a different Lifetime, joined now by our creative designs and ideas.
    Really enjoyed Bill sharing this.

    • bgob1

      Thanks Connie! You are so right! xo Maren