Too Many Ideas Syndrome

I read about Too Many Ideas Syndrome (TMIS) in a special creativity issue of Writer’s Digest.

“You don’t hear much about TMIS because complaining about being too creative is like complaining about being on The New York Times bestseller list too often,” wrote Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant.

Still, anyone who has felt paralyzed by having too many ideas (including questionable or just plain bad ones) can relate to the concept. I know I can.

Actually, having a lot of ideas is good. It beats the alternative. But whether you’re writing an ad, article, or book, you have to choose an idea and move out. Commitment is a scary thing.

Jasheway-Bryant has more advice than I can impart in this space, so I’ll just pass along a couple of examples I liked.

One was what she called the Red Dress Theory. It’s based on the idea that there are always an abundance of black dresses at a party, which is why it’s smart to wear a red dress in order to be different and attract attention. The same goes for ideas. Pick the one that looks like the red dress in a sea of black.

Another example came from Cynthia Whitcomb, an award-winning screenwriter Jasheway-Bryant quoted in the article. Whitcomb compared idea sampling to the kitchen.

“Think of your ideas like pots on the stove in the kitchen of your creative mind,” she said.

“Lift the lids and look inside. One of them is always closest to being soup. Write that one first.”

I like the soup metaphor. In my world of deadline-driven clients, I’ve developed the idea that was closest to being soup on many occasions.


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