Sometimes to move forward you have to go backward.
Part 4 of the Pursuing Inspiration series.
Sometimes following rabbit trails leads you to a dead end or two; in those cases, it may be a good idea to retrace your steps back to a previously-beaten path.
Do you have any unfinished projects laying about? Any brilliant notes written in the middle of the night and forgotten by morning? I certainly do, unfinished in half-used sketchbooks, tucked away in dismissed notebooks, hidden in the maze of my laptop’s hard drive, and buried in the depths of my backpack, hastily scribbled and hastily forgotten. Perhaps yours are written with bold strokes on post-it notes, or hesitantly penciled in a neat, organized notebook; maybe your idea was merely an impression of something that you never fleshed out, or maybe it was thought-out to the point of execution. But somehow the idea was cast to the side.
There are any number of reasons for ideas to be abandoned: Lack of support, faulty reasoning, an uncertain outcome; perhaps something more interesting just caused you to forget this bit of genius. Whatever the reason, just because it didn’t work before doesn’t mean it can’t work now. Redesign where necessary. Edit out what doesn’t fit. Rearrange paragraphs. Start from scratch if you need to.
On the same line, don’t be afraid to let an idea go for a while. A dormant idea isn’t a dead idea; like a good cup of tea, it might just need time to steep. According to the brilliant Mr. Snicket, “Nobody knows what an idea will do when it goes off to entertain itself.” Why not find out?
Moral of the post: Save stray ideas for the inevitable creative dry seasons.