For all the stories I have started and finished over the years, there are probably an equal number of unfinished stories.
I get an idea. It starts to take form. I begin to work with it. And then — it goes nowhere. Or I find that there is this one sticking point and I can’t get past it.
This is where it’s important to see if the idea has anywhere to go or if it has reached its conclusion. My fantasy series, The Source Chronicles, almost totally stalled out in book 1, Seeker, because I hit a major snag. The original idea of one of my characters had been more-or-less eliminated as I got deeper and deeper into the story. In fact, it utterly messed with and wrecked a major plot point.
Fortunately, a conversation with a friend untangled the snag and I was able to move on, repair the character flaw, and finish the book.
This is an example of being rooted in an idea versus stuck in an idea. It comes down to recognizing that the fundamental notion is workable.
What does that even mean?
Rooted versus stuck
Let’s say you have an idea for rearranging and cleaning your office. You believe that this idea will lead to greater productivity on your part.
You go ahead and turn around your desk, clean up the clutter, dust the bookshelves, and change around the art. And it works. Your productivity increases and you find yourself in a better headspace overall. You are rooted in the idea and now apply it to other spaces you occupy to generate the same effect.
- or -
You go ahead and turn around your desk, clean up the clutter, dust the bookshelves, and change around the art. And it does nothing. Now you are constantly stopping to make adjustments, re-rearranging furniture, getting distracted by the books on the bookshelves, and so on. You keep shifting it and altering the idea hoping for a different result. You are stuck in the idea, however, because you keep trying again and again.
As Albert Einstein is frequently attributed to have said,
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
This is an example of being rooted in an idea versus stuck in an idea. Other examples may include attempting to create a cookie recipe and trying again, and again, and again to make the idea work but not succeeding; starting a story but never finishing it due to constant, frequent editing; half-way implementing any given idea over and over, but never reaching a conclusion.
Yes, I suspect this could drive a person batty rather easily.
Ideas are great, and they lead to innovations, change, and bigger and better things.
Sometimes you fall in love with an idea but do nothing of substance with it.
Idea generation sans movement and implementation
For example, let’s say you have this amazing idea for something you think could change the world. You explore the idea and you make various attempts to figure out how to implement it.
But that, in turn, leads to another idea. The first idea gets either shunted off to the side or abandoned while you focus on the next. Again, you explore the idea and you make various attempts to figure out how to implement it.
This leads you to yet another idea. The second idea, like the first, gets shelved or abandoned while your attention shifts.
Can you guess what happens next?
This is another form of being stuck in an idea. But more specifically, it’s falling in love with the idea of the idea, rather than the idea itself.
This is where having partners in business can come in handy. One has the skill for creating ideas while the other is the implementor. They get rooted in ideas and not stuck in them, together.
When you love the idea, but have no idea how to move it forward, and/or no desire to find a way, you are stuck in the idea. It’s like a car on a patch of ice with no traction. You will spin the tire faster and faster as you press on the gas — but you go nowhere.
And, what’s worse, you may burn the rubber down on your poor tire.
Sometimes this is obvious. Other times it’s not — instead, it is subtle, and hard to see. Are you stuck in the idea or rooted in it?
How can you tell? The answer is to practice mindfulness.
Become mindful of the idea
Mindfulness is awareness specifically of yourself. When you become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions it goes beyond just knowing your headspace. It can also show you your overall mindset and your heart’s desires.
This awareness puts you in the here-and-now. That opens you to recognize not just yourself but the world around you. Starting with yourself via mindfulness expands your awareness outwards.
Thus, you get a much clearer picture of any idea you are working on and whether you are rooted in it or stuck.
Does it make you feel good or feel frustrated? Is the idea doable for you or completely far-fetched? Can you take action or do you just generate more ideas from the first idea? Is this a good idea or a bad idea?
When you are mindful you can more easily ask and answer these questions and others like them. Then, you will have more clarity and be able to tell if you are rooted or stick in this idea.
Ideas are always a good idea
In conclusion, having new ideas is awesome. Don’t be afraid of new ideas. That’s how you innovate, alter, repair, and change the world. New ideas provide things like the internet, airplanes, mobile phones, and similar evolving technologies.
You can recognize the difference between being rooted in an idea and stuck in an idea. However, just because YOU are stuck doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share your idea with someone else.
For example, I may have a great idea for an invention and not the slightest notion, ability, or know-how to carry it forward. No matter what I do with it I am going to be stuck. But maybe somebody I know has the abilities I don’t, so I can share it with them.
Just because you get stuck in an idea doesn’t mean someone can’t help you get unstuck.
When you are mindful you can gain the clarity necessary to see if the idea is merely an idea or potential for something more. If you are rooted in it, you can carry it forward and act upon it somehow. If stuck, you can seek help to get unstuck or abandon the idea entirely.
You never know — you may have a great idea that could change the world. Rooted or stuck in it, what you do will determine if it can or will go anywhere at all.
What ideas are taking root in your head and heart today?
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter and so do our ideas.