Living in the academic world, I always think of the start of fall a little early, and equate it with the students heading back to school, which of course happens a little earlier than the calendar definition of “fall.” Autumn in general evokes thoughts of cozy sweaters, cooler evenings, and harvests.
The idea of harvest actually applies year round for me in yet another context: gathering and sorting ideas and creativity. In honor of the concept of “harvest,” I thought I’d write about how I harvest my own creativity. While there is no right or wrong way, this is how I do it.
Assess the field
Just as a farmer watches over her fields, so must I when it comes to creative ideas. It is important to really capture all ideas—good, bad, or otherwise, in some way or form so that I can go back and review them and move on to the next step of the creative process.
For me, that means carrying a Moleskine® notebook with me to meetings and in my bag, so I have full time access to it during the week. In it, I keep a rolling list of things to do, but more important, it is the vessel by which I capture all my crazy ideas. It also has a pocket in back for blank thank you notes, business cards and a few stamps – so I can always have on hand my business info.
Sort the crop
I just returned from the Alsace region of France for summer vacation, and toured a winery. One of the items the tour guide mentioned was that vintners right after the harvest begin to sort and identify the best grapes within the season. For me, when it comes to ideas, I try and do the same thing. I sort the ideas, and come up with the best at the time and pursue them. Some ideas I find great, but they’re just not ready yet. Others are good, but the timing may be off.
Otherwise, if I chase every idea, the only thing I really end up chasing my tail and never get anything done, because I’m too busy chasing everything. One must cull the best ideas and most creative ideas, and pare down them from everything else. Find the best grapes in the bunch, and put your energy into creating the best ideas ever.
To market, to market
Last, but certainly not least, the harvest must go out for sale. This is also true of creative ideas. If you’re working on ideas for the day job, you also not only need to think about the great idea itself, but you must also think about how you’re going to sell it back to the organization. Great ideas are worthless if they can’t be executed.
The entrepreneur in me also needs to think about how I’m going to execute this great idea. Ideas, even the most creative ones, can be a dime a dozen. What makes the great ideas come to life? Proper execution of them!
If nothing else, I hope this article made you think about your own harvest of creativity and ideas. Mere awareness of your own process may enlighten the way to more and better ways of harnessing your own creativity—to produce the best yield ever when it comes to your most creative life.