Discover more from Inspired as F**k
Navigating Big Ideas by Breaking Things Down
Sigh ... but do I have to?
This is part of my “Art of Noticing” series, in which I learn, find, or discover the things around me that usually go unnoticed and turn them into an endless source of creative inspiration.
Today, I acknowledged that while I love big, intricate ideas, they tend to paralyze me. It made me consider trying something I'm not particularly fond of: taking a smaller approach.
I love, love, love big ideas. Just read my books and you’ll see what I mean: big concepts. Big questions. Lots and lots of turns in the labyrinth, and layers upon layers.
But with all that huge goodness comes complexity. And complexity, while wonderful, sometimes stops me before I start. I don’t know where to begin, and yet I feel a pressing need to make sure things all come together in the end … even though I never knew in past books how things would turn out, and yet they always did.
The result? Procrastination. This despite the fact that I’ve been writing for decades, and know better.
So, what's the solution? As someone who likes to dive deep, the idea of "simplifying" doesn't sit well with me. I also don’t like the idea of breaking a project down to more digestible pieces because that’s just not how I’ve worked in the past … but sigh, I suppose I can try. What’s creativity if not a willingness to experiment?
Subscribe to get new Noticings by email:
Here's how this "noticing" can benefit my stories and art:
Dividing the Narrative
Instead of seeing a story as one big thing, I could view it as a collection of interconnected pieces. Writing a scene, developing a character backstory, or even just setting the stage for one pivotal moment might be more achievable steps towards the bigger project.
I kind of hate this idea, but maybe you won’t hate it if you’re like me and have a similar problem.
I’m brainstorming here; not sure if I’ll do it. (Hey. I’m just being honest.)
Keep the Complexity, but Get Some Clarity
Simplifying doesn't mean losing the essence of the big story. “Simplifying” in this case just means identifying the core of the idea and ensuring that while I add layers and depth, the central theme remains clear and undiluted. The clarity I get from doing that might serve as a guidepost, ensuring I don't lose my way in the labyrinth of the narrative.
This one, I actually will try. Because although my books become complex, the best and most fun-to-write ones didn’t start that way. Complexity has always emerged for me rather than being there from the start. Unfortunately, it’s moved to the starting blocks and I can’t seem to shake it. Remembering that I can boil things down and wait for the complexity to come is something I should keep in mind.
If Everything Else Fails, I Can At Least Embrace the Discomfort of It All
Trying a writing approach I’m not used to is uncomfortable. I typically prefer immersing myself fully into big ideas and letting them grow, but signs now say maybe that’s not my best way to do things.
So maybe I should take my own advice. After all, growth often comes from pushing our own boundaries. Simplifying or breaking down an idea, even if don’t want to, might show me new creativity I hadn't seen before.
Every complex idea is a challenge. And while my instinct is usually to dive deep, maybe resisting the urge is a better way to go.
Want to learn on the go?
Reading these posts is only one way to get these lessons. Every post here has a companion episode of my 10-minute, multi-times-weekly podcast, The Art of Noticing.
Members get extra posts like this one, bonus podcast episodes, and more every week … all for the price of a fancy coffee. Learn about membership here.