Fellow Creatives: How Do You Choose a Good Idea?

Juggling too many things

This is Not Chaos, *Lisa Telling Kattenbraker - available on Etsy

After learning about my frequent flirtations with Good Ideas, many readers responded that they, too, find themselves in creative overload. They are either overcommitted and overwhelmed, or just fruitlessly moving from one idea to the next.

  • To what extent is an abundance of good ideas paralyzing to you?
  • How do you weed through all the wonderful ideas, schemes, projects and plans that come your way?
  • Do you have people in your life (possibly of a different temperamental disposition) who help to constrain and focus you?  How does this work, and how do you respond?
  • Do you have priorities that guide what you do?  If so, what are they?

Short of starting a support group, let’s come together and share what works (and doesn’t work) for us as we strive to be makers and creators.

Join the Conversation!



*Lisa Telling Kattenbraker is a batik artist. She works on cotton fabric, using traditional methods and tools, combined with experimental approaches to create vibrant, contemporary american batik. She lives in Washington State with her artist husband, children, chickens, cat and puppy.

She says of her work, “The process of batik is, in many ways, a contrast to my daily life. It’s slow going, it’s meditative. I’m drawn to that process part of it…the journey.”

6 thoughts on “Fellow Creatives: How Do You Choose a Good Idea?

  1. I’ve learned that good ideas don’t have to come to fruition immediately. I’ve found myself revisiting projects that, when I started, I was overwhelmed with ideas and not enough time. I took the time over the summer to finish a few things because I knew it was indeed a good idea and it deserved to be finished – before my busy season. I still start on an idea if I want to, but it may or may not be completed right away. Just because you take a break from something, doesn’t mean it was a bad idea. Taking time to rethink things can make all the difference.

    • Tricia,
      I think that’s a good way to look at this… kind of as a long term process with many “non-linear” events taking place. I’m glad you revisit your projects – I think your work is so good! (I’ll have to feature you here soon!)

      I have a studio full of unfinished projects right now, started before baby Desmond was born. I’ve made peace with saving them for another season of my life, and yes, I do think I have some good ideas in there. My problem is that I forget about past ideas and am always moving into new territory. I think keeping a notebook/journal/ sketchbook more diligently could help with this.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. What great questions!

    I try manage this problem by capturing as much information about an idea in my sketchbook or computer as possible when I get that first burst of inspiration. I rarely acto on anything idea right away, so over time I see patterns in my ideas, and can decide which idea in each line of thought I want to develop further. There are always a few that rise to the top of the pile and keep popping into my mind, and THOSE are the ones I commit to fully developing. Because I took time to fully think through the notes in the beginning, I have everything I need when the time comes to act.

    Like Tricia above, I keep multiple projects going at a time, and chip away at them as the mood strikes. This way, I’m giving my best effort when I work on something (I’m interested and focused on the task at hand) and my ideas have time to develop and evolve in between work sessions. If I feel a project has gone on too long, I’ll focus until it’s finished.

    I’ve also learned to say “no thanks” to ideas activities and commitments that don’t bring me joy. Committing to things my heart isn’t into takes away time, energy and resources from my projects. I also limit the time I spend on sites like Pinterest (which I adore) because I’ll spend hours passively swooning over other people’s ideas and miss out on time I could’ve used to make something truly special of my own.

    • Lauren,

      I really like your process of sketching, etc., and watching for patterns – for what bubbles up to the top. This is really wise. I love new notebooks like I love new ideas… I’ve been trying to carry just one around with me recently. It really is amazing how much it helps to capture ideas and trends before they flit away!

      I also find your point about not squandering time on Pinterest, (and Etsy, and FB and…) very weighty. I’m planning a post about technology and creativity soon. I absolutely find that creative production and time spent reading/ learning/ chatting online is diametrically opposed.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. It seems like you’ve had some success in the area of harnessing your ideas, and I hope you’ll contribute again!


  3. I let a “good idea” marinate (your word 🙂 for 2-3 months. If it is still appealing after this period, I deem it to be worth pursuing. I have stopped keeping lists, as the exercise of prioritizing long lists is a pain. At any given time I also try and focus only on the top 1-2 ideas in a particular area. A good idea to me is something that has an impact (solves a customer problem, provides something of value etc.). These have a tendency of coming to the fore more often than the not so good ideas.

    Blog looks great Heidi!

    • Really good insights, Sandip. – That must be why you and Anisha are on my short list of people to interview for this blog. 🙂 I especially like your definition of a good idea as one that has an impact. …A very wise constraint.

      Thanks for the encouraging words!

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