Influenced Concepts

Influenced Concepts

…the first step in creativity is not focusing on goals but letting go of them. Being open and aimless. Forgetting preconceived notions.

Jill Jepson

Are any of my ideas original thought? Or have I been deluding myself?

Some time ago, I was receiving Jill Jepson’s newsletter in my email inbox twice a month. I unsubscribed from her letters after a while because I was so busy trying to make some sort of progress on my WiP. Her emails were still valid for where I was in my writing, but the time with so many emails had to stop.

Anyway, I have a list of possible blog post topics that sit in one of my notebooks in my OneNote app. I add to it as I see potential phrases and sentences that spark topic ideas for me. When I came across this one written by Jill, I thought maybe getting back to the simplest of basics might be good.

Jill’s lines got me reflecting about times when I let my mind wander randomly. It was difficult to find those old times at first. So much of what I do is planned, deliberate, intentional, methodical. If I do this one thing, then such and such will be next. So much of my everyday life is like this. It’s rare for me to follow the flight of a fleeting thought. Most of my life is far from being original.

Long ago I used to play the flute. It took four years of doing exactly what the teacher told me to do before I let my imagination have a say in what I played. With the flute, I did forget about those preconceived notions and aimlessly made up melodies once I was done with my hour of rigid practice. It was also back then that I wrote stories, letting my young imagination take me wherever it felt like going at that particular moment.

Yes, there was a time when I was utterly and completely creative.

Then life got in the way as it has the bad habit of doing. Jill’s email got me questioning whether I could bring all that originality back or had I lost it forever.

Of course, that question lead to other ones like is writing the right path for me. I can’t play the flute anymore. Still, writing isn’t my only option. I’ve done needlepoint, Native American crafts, web graphics, and even dabbled in painting. Did I choose the right craft to pursue seriously?

I know that one of the reasons I chose writing is that it’s so extremely accessible to me. I didn’t have to buy a thing to get started either. Everything needed was already with me.

Those other options would require me finding stores where I could buy the supplies. There aren’t any art craft supply stores in this town. Even if there were, how was I suppose to get to them and what would I use for money?

Now, accessibility wasn’t the only reason for taking up writing. I’m so much more comfortable writing than I am talking. I think it’s because I can change what I say before anyone sees it. The chances of me being misunderstood are much less.

Jill also mentioned goals as something that might squash the creative pulse. Yes, I most certainly agree. I have a nasty habit of letting my thoughts jump to the end of what I’m trying to do. Often, it’s just for a transit moment but it still stops me from having my attention solely on what I’m doing at the time.

Goal watching can definitely ruin creative flow. This makes me wonder why personal coaches keep stressing the aspect of looking at goals, keep an eye on the big picture, and keep on shooting for what’s in the future. How can anyone get anything done that way? Or does it just put money into the coach’s pocket?

Are your ideas and dreams influenced, or are they more of the created kind?

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham


14 thoughts on “Influenced Concepts

  1. Really like the Jill Jepsen quote. Though goals can help map out the path ahead of us, there is every possibility that we may not reach them and get discouraged. After all, life is unpredictable and our priorities can change from moment to the next, and what we thought was great at first may not be what we connect with at a certain time down the track. I try not to set too many goals as I am writing my first book. At the very least, I tell myself that each page that I write, I can take my time. It is not the end of the world if I don’t reach my goals – it usually means that that is probably not meant to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m naturally goal related, yet this trait in me drives me bonkers. I literally have to halt and shift gears in my brain so I’ll put the goal watching aside and focus on what I’m doing at that very moment. I want so badly to write with abandonment, just letting the words flow out of me. I know I can do it because I did it at a teenager. I just have to find that spot again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like that quote. I try to work with goals, but if something pops up to direct things in a different way, I like to follow that new path. That’s been particularly important and beneficial in my day-job career (technology) because it changes so fast, that my goals are often rendered mute by something new and better. I still think goals are important, but I like to keep them a bit fuzzy. A general direction vs. a specific destination. Yeah, don’t ride with me if you’re in a hurry 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m trying to get to the point where I take the scenic route instead of making a beeline for the destination. You would think I’d be able to do it with ease at this time in my life, but I’m still struggling.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Without goals,I flounder and waste energy. I need signposts directing me from A to B or I’ll wander off to D or E instead of only C. Sigh. I’m tired already and my brain is lazy.
    I like a schedule and at least one task I am capable of completing a particular day. I may mess the rest of it but I’ve managed ONE project or part of it. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I plan, making outlines and setting up schedules, usually I get so caught up in the goal that I don’t put as much thought into the process of what I’m doing. I end up with something that may be classified as done, but the workmanship on it is much to be desired. I’m better off just going with an idea when I have it and running “my legs” off through the development of it until I run out of energy.


      1. I don’t have FIRM goals. They would kill me because I’d be upset when not meeting them. Mine are flexible and used like a ruler. My schedules are Monday I do this and if I accomplish/finish this–great. Life gets in the way with a vengeance when I make a firm plan. Every time!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I read somewhere that ‘very few ideas are original. They’re nearly always sparked off by another idea/thought/experience.’
    I believe this is true. Our mind is a random collection of pictures, memories, experiences in no particular order. If I have a new project I always make a ‘Mind-Map’ to clarify my ideas, much easier to stick to than a list.
    Any one else a fan of Mind-Maps?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve tried the mind map approach. I wasn’t good at it, but it could be that I need to develop my own style of working with one. I still have the app for Mind Maple. I should spend some time with it again.

      I’ve heard there aren’t any original ideas too. As far as the “big picture” idea, I would say that may be true, but when getting down to the details, you’re working with the individual thoughts of an individual, and each one of us is different.


  5. I, too, struggle with the idea of goals. All of my professional life I was goal directed and started each day with a list of things to do to achieve my various goals. It worked. I enjoyed my various jobs in education and did well with them. But when it comes to writing my goal is to write everyday. Period. sometimes a poem, sometimes a newspaper column, sometimes a blog post, sometimes doodling with ideas for another book — not necessarily a finished piece but a good paragraph or two, a revision, a start. I do eventually finished the first three because I have a self-imposed deadline for my blog posts, an editor’s deadline for the columns, and a poetry group that expects me to attend with a poem to share. A book? No deadline, and perhaps it never will be written. You are introspective and bright. I’m sure you will find a way that works for you just as eventually you found your way to a more creative place with your flute.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I, too, write everyday. I don’t think of all writing as a task. I just write because that’s what I like to do. This could be where I’ve gotten myself hung up. Maybe it’s the notion of making my WiP a task that has made it such a struggle.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Being disciplined is a good strategy for accomplishment, but being rigid can stifle intuition.
    I’ve always felt that creativity is born from being vulnerable, open to experimentation and spontaneity. If we don’t become engaged in meeting new people or trying new experiences, how will we learn enough to have something to write about? Our books are in our heads, you’re right about that, but eventually we have to fill our heads with fresh ideas.

    I write as I have time, sometimes all day, sometimes after a lapse of several days. I’ve completed 3 books, have begun a 4th, have ideas for about 4 others. Marketing is my stumbling block. This is where I need to become more disciplined.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shari, to tell the truth, I don’t think your problem is discipline. I have a hunch that it’s the apprehension of not being good enough AND being good enough. Either way, you haven’t a clue as to what will come next. The dreaded fear of the unknown. It’s like jumping off a ledge and not knowing if you’ll land on your feet or end up in the hospital in traction.

      Liked by 1 person

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