Principles for Creative Work, aka Things Not to Worry About

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This post started out as a framework to guide a group with whom I’m starting a new creative adventure. (Yes, you will hear about it in due course, but we actually have to produce some stuff first.) Sharing it for all my other friends and colleagues who might find it useful.

  • You will have more ideas than you can use. This means you will have to throw a lot of them away. Don’t worry about this apparent ‘waste’. Discarded ideas don’t go into landfill, they become the compost that makes your creative soil more fertile.
  • You will start more projects than you finish, especially in the earlier stages of your creative adventure. This doesn’t mean you lack staying power, it is a normal part of the process. See above re composting.
  • You will have to throw away some of your favourite ideas, aka known as ‘killing your darlings’. Some of your ideas will be totally awesome, but for one reason or another just don’t work in the larger context of what you’re doing. It will hurt to throw them away, but ruthlessness will make your work better.
  • No work is wasted work. Whilst only a relatively small proportion of your ideas will appear in your final product, none of the time, effort, attention and love you have put into those that fell by the wayside is in vain. Every idea you have, and every decision to throw one away, builds your experience and thus expertise in your creative craft. They may not be part of your product, but they remain part of you.

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