When you first start writing, you feel that you have a wellspring of ideas. They might even be particularly good ideas, and you feel that they flow so well and so plentiful at times that it’s even difficult for you to capture all of them. Especially at the beginning of a particular work, writers might feel excited at the prospect of fleshing out a brand new idea. The honeymoon phase of writing is a natural one.
But the way that it wears off in writing can be different than a marriage. Speaking of writers specifically, we tend to be observers. We tend to be collectors, hoarders of memories and cool clips and witty comebacks that we’ll never use but THEY’RE MINE AND DON’T YOU TOUCH THEM.
My point is that occasionally, once the honeymoon has worn off, many writers fall into the trap of “saving.” They fall so in love with certain ideas that they become afraid to use the creativity they have now on the work that they have now. Sometimes this can even develop into a full-fledged fear that artists have to hoard the ideas they have because they won’t be able to think of things so beautiful and clever in the future.
A musician might choose to use a less brilliant piece of music in the project that he’s working on now because the really good one that he wrote is supposed to be used in some future work. A writer might choose a less satisfying ending because the truly artful one is supposed to cap off his masterpiece.
There is no better time than the present to exhibit your skills in whatever you do, and “holding back” doesn’t help as much as you think. A lot of pictures, that I took for artistic purposes but never shared with anyone, just sit on my computer. Where is the artistic utility in that? Where is the joy in the craft in that?
1. Working at a newspaper, or somewhere else where the work that you do is in the scope of that company, and therefore not yours. You might want to wait to share your best thoughts when you own them.
2. If you’re writing a novel and the “best thought” is a later part, and building up to it creates tension and suspense.
3. If you’re not using that thing because of an ACTIVE project that you plan to use it in.
Other than that, use your “best stuff”. Ideas aren’t like other things. They aren’t “wasted.” There’s not a finite amount of them, or a reservoir that all of a sudden is empty. Using them makes future ones better and you can build on that.
So you might as well use your best stuff while you’re with us. Because a life full of half-assed writing followed by a masterpiece is nowhere near as artful as one that was masterful all the way through.
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Photographer: Sean MacEntee