Make Your Idea Better

Something confusing happened…

I received a link from one of my geeky friends. This is not all that unusual; however, the fact that it was on a Bible Study blog was. What’s even more illuminating was that this post, one where I am rather proud of the end result, started out as something negative. It was something that would never have found its way to such an unexpected corner of the internet. It was something that might have captured people’s attention, but not in the way I really wanted.

While this is what ended up on a site that used it as an example of what someone wanted to be:

This is what I started with:

A Tale Of Too Many Drinks

Rather than look for the redeeming qualities of those who were good at being both bold or useful (or those who are useful and bold, but not all that good), I picked the low-hanging fruit. My instinct was to go negative, to say that if you weren’t good, bold and useful, there was no value. This is especially ironic when you consider that my initial thought was to write a post that discussed my growing need to forgo being bold and good in favor of being useful. It wasn’t until I started talking this out with Yuvi Zalkow over far too many Gin and Vinegar drinks that I realized that being useful alone wasn’t going to be all that useful. And it wasn’t until I started writing the piece (while still reaping the benefits of said Gin and Vinegar drinks) that I realized the redeeming qualities of those who were yet to excel in finding that balance between being good, bold and useful.

Related side note: There are few better ways to work out an idea than conversation with smart friends over good drinks. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

The Dangers Of Reactive Writing

I tend to write from a place of emotion. An idea strikes and I attack it. I’m also reactive, so more often than not a post is responding to something someone else wrote, said or did. My initial reaction is often negative1; oftentimes my response is as well. It’s tempting to attack the thing we don’t like. Attacks feel good and good attack gets attention, something we all want, regardless if we can admit it or not.

If you’re at all like me, your first thoughts won’t always be positive. You’ll see something that you feel needs calling out or possibly defending and you’ll jump. Something might just be nagging at you and you just want to get it out. Anger proves to be an easy way to express it. Don’t. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to get your point across, I’m just suggesting there’s a better way to do it. As someone who has taken the easy road, it might feel good in the moment, but you won’t feel good about it in the long run. Trust me, having just seen two people whose hands I was embarrassed to shake based on things I had said in blog posts, I can assure you that this is not who you want to be.

You Can Still Say Something

This doesn’t mean you need to let things go. It doesn’t mean that you can stand up for what you believe to be important. It just means you’re going to have to slow down, work hard and do better. Get your idea then crystalize it. If you don’t entirely like what you see, break it apart and see if you can come up with something better. Sometimes you can’t and getting it out will be enough to throw it away and move on. However, once you get that initial anger out, you might find there’s something valuable there, a positive way to get your point across rather than yet another bit of unneeded controversy.

The Benefits Of Better

If you look back at the initial sketch (which happens to be on the back of the receipt of the aforementioned Gin and Vinegar drinks), you’ll notice that I was struggling with the right word for the center of my venn diagram. When taking the easy route and going with words like “douchey” and “boring”, I couldn’t find what I was really trying to say. It wasn’t until I sought out the far more redemptive terms “popular” and “helpful” that I was able to home in on what I really wanted to be. The core concept of being valuable didn’t even occur until I abandoned the negative in favor of looking for the positive aspects of my own idea. It took longer, but in the end it led to something that I get to be proud of and that resonated in at least one very unexpected way.

Are you taking the easy way out or are you making your ideas better?

  1. and by often, I mean almost always  

13 Responses to Make Your Idea Better

  1. Now it’s true that I would have been excited had you said anything about those fabulous vinegar-based cocktails, but you’ve taken it a step further by saying something so interesting… I truly enjoy when you share how you process things because we get to see the messy, douchey stuff on the way to the insightful, valuable, powerful stuff. And I think seeing this process is inspiring.

  2. I think I’m the polar opposite of you. It’s a little odd that we get along. I rarely respond in the heat of the moment, which can sometimes be just as devastating as responding in the heat of the moment. The things we learn via hindsight…

    Back to the messy stuff, though – messy is good. At least it can be. My mom used to tell me a real artist gets messy (I hated getting paint or glue on my fingers when I was a kid.). A mess sometimes is the only way to get to the good thing. These days, I’m all for creating a mess, then placing some order upon it. It takes patience and hard work (and a lot of thrown away messes), but the end result usually is worth it.

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