My Idea Debt

February 01, 2017

Earlier this week, I read about a concept called Idea Debt. It’s when you hold onto ideas without actually putting them into place and as they build up, you’re left with an increasing number of unfulfilled concepts. I suffer from this badly. In my late teens, I came up with an idea for a fantasy novel. Ten years later, I still have a “binder of lore”, along with another of my ideas – Hyperman, a superhero kept alive by radium gas (yes, that highly volatile, highly toxic gas). While the later was conjured from a bored Sunday afternoon and will never become anything more than a poor drawing, I’d love to make a go of the novel. But it’s not going to happen. I have more high quality ideas from the past few weeks to ignore.

My debt continues to build.

The posited solution to all this is to work in the moment and that’s what I do. New ideas blossom pretty quickly in my head but soon take over like wild weeds. The negative connotations are on purpose; I become wrapped up and prioritise it over anything else, usually daily necessities like eating and cleaning. This wouldn’t sound so bad except my ideas never go further than my own outlets. For the music I make, I’ve been very lucky to make some money from it and received good feedback from my peers. Other than that, I get nothing other than momentary satisfaction. This adds interest to the Idea Debt but fortunately this is simple interest as it doesn’t hamper my creative desire for the next project.

As I sit here thinking of all the ideas I’ve ever had and a debt that won’t go away, I wonder what would happen if I just set them free. Would one of those creative buds be better suited with someone else? I’d like to think so. As a species, we are very clingy to the products of our thoughts. We’re afraid to share them in case of theft and in some cases, I feel we’re right to do so but not always. What use is a brilliant idea if it’s not being used? Holding on tightly to an idea you’re almost certain of leaving in the corner of your mind is just a waste of brain power. Why not pass it onto someone you know and trust? If you really can’t bear to give it away, you have to use it.

So that’s what I plan to do. I will outsource the ideas I know I will never finish and be happier for the relief of the burden and know I’ve contributed to the flow of creativity in some way. That will give more time and mental space to carry on with the ideas I do wish to fulfil.