I woke up at 3:00 am this morning. (It’s 5:30 now.) And within minutes I started suffering from Idea Spill. For all you Scanners and Barbara Sher fans out there, you may have come across this term in her book, Refuse to Choose. She only mentions it briefly and says that one of her clients came up with it. I want to describe it in great detail.
Idea Spill is when you lie in bed and design your dream house that you’re gonna build with the money you make from the bestseller novel you’re almost finished writing. You create the floor plan, the landscaping, and especially the wonderful carriage house off the alley, big enough for your husband to have a workshop for his business and you to do your silversmithing downstairs and have a belly dancing studio and writer’s nook upstairs.
Idea Spill is when you interrupt that train of though with a sudden idea to write this blog about Idea Spill.
Idea Spill is when you get five more ideas for costume pieces you could make and sell on your Etsy site, Magic Carpet Dance Arts. You could use that red velvet. You could sew it a certain way to one of your henna motif panel skirts.
Idea Spill is when you get more and more excited as you lie there, and the dang ideas come crowding faster and faster. Ideas for that jewelry piece your working on in your lapidary class. Ideas for that next novel. Ideas for Klu’s blog, Get a Klu. (He’s gonna post again soon — he promises!) Ideas for things to cook with your batch of roasted green chiles and the goodies you brought back from Santa Fe.
Idea Spill is manic. Idea Spill does not allow one to drift back to sleep.
I distinctly remember the first time I identified this middle-of-the-night experience, although I didn’t have a name for it back then. A roommate of mine had bought some crayons meant for writing/drawing on fabric that day. I woke up in the middle of the night, and suddenly HAD to decorate an old pair of jeans with a ripped knee. I got up and snuck around in the dark in her room until I located the crayons, then went downstairs and happily did my art project until dawn. I think she thought I was nuts when I told her. But I had to do it. I HAD to. The creative ideas were spilling over the dam, and I was helpless to manage them.
But I think managing the ideas is what it’s all about. It’s all well and good that I did The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and got unblocked in my creativity. Those 12 weeks and the other work I did based on her books were life-changing. But now that I’m unblocked, I’ve gotta learn to manage the Idea Spill. My muse seems to think she’s running the show at the moment, and that I’m at her beck and call.
So I’m experimenting with various techniques from Refuse to Choose. The kitchen timer. Rotating priorities. The Scanner Daybook. But when Idea Spill overtakes me, I’m still getting swept away.
I’ll keep you posted.