Creative Constipation

Once again, I woke up in the middle of the night flooded with ideas of things I want to do, make, and write about. A familiar voice deep inside of me said “This is too overwhelming, there are too many ideas here to possibly even capture, you will spin out of control and create an oceanic vomit of confusion if you even attempt to start writing… safer to do none of it. You have tried this before…. you always fail. Calm down and go back to sleep instead.”

This overwhelmed-with-creativity voice that says “You are too much, nobody understands you, better to stay small and tidy” needs a name, and I’m taking suggestions.

What happened next: At 5am I decided to get up and start writing anyway. I bounced out of bed, relieved to be up and so inspired!

I felt sweaty and still had the ocean salt and sand from last night on my legs. I knew that I’d feel better if I could sneak in a shower before my kids woke up, so I jumped in the shower to rinse off. Filled with excitement and ideas, I decided to try to meditate first to still my mind. I set up a little candle and a mat and flipped through three meditation apps exploring each one. Then I did a short 10 minute unguided with the candle and experienced vivid visuals.

Next, I sat down to write. I had to pick which app to use…. was I about to journal or blog? I read about some on my phone for the 100th time and relatively quickly (for me) settled on committing to Evernote after reading a great set of posts by Michael Hyatt. I downloaded the app and made coffee.

At that point, I’d been out of bed for about two hours. It was 7am and the kids were still not up. “Good,” I thought, “I can still do this.”

I opened my computer, and the first thing I saw was a search for a piano I was running on Craigslist. I got distracted and decided to search some more, then ask for advice about the decision on Facebook.

Finally, I got my focus back and opened up a new note. That got me here, writing about all of the things that get in the way when we feel inspired to create.

I’m going to call this pattern Creative Constipation. It’s what happens when I have SO many ideas backed up in me that I’m scared to let them out—scared it will hurt and make a mess.

I want to reflect on the reasons this back up occurs and what lessons we can learn from bodily blockages that also apply to spiritual and intellectual ones like this. I’ll follow up on this once I’ve had a little more time to think. In the meantime, does anyone else experience creative constipation like this? What do you do to find release and relief?

How To Pitch Ideas like Don Draper & Why to Think About It Early

When it comes to turning creativity into innovation, how an idea is pitched is probably more important than what the idea is.  Creators often want to spend time perfecting the idea and run out of gas when it comes to developing the presentation.  I’ve seen it happen time and again in my work facilitating product innovation teams.

Visualizing the pitch during the idea generation stage is essential. Thinking about how to frame your idea will help you make your idea simpler, tighter, more coherent, and more valuable. Imagining your pitch is a very useful constraint during the creative process.  So don’t wait until you’ve decided on your idea to start thinking about how to sell it!   This is especially if your audience is likely to perceive your idea as a risky departure from the status quo.

This video shows Mad Men’s beloved Don Draper pitching an idea nearly perfectly.  Memorable story line?  Check.  Metaphor?  Check.  Characters?  Check.  Personal?  Check.  Emotional?  Check.  Vivid?   See for yourself….

(I used this video when David Reimer and I taught a workshop on pitching and presenting ideas – something we called “The How” – for Haas@Work, the Applied Innovation program at the Haas School of Business. –> If you’d like me to write more about pitching and presenting please contact me or write a quick comment below.)

TIP: If you need to pitch ideas to make innovation happen, I highly recommend Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick. Tons of free resources are available on their website to supplement the book, including the first chapter if you register.  Happy pitching!