Recently I was sharing some concerns with a trusted mentor. I was stressed and anxious. As I rambled on, I realized I was talking in circles.
I was jumping back and forth between the backstory and current story, sidestepping and swinging back around to finish a thought. Then I stopped narrating.
“I’m sorry. I’m making no sense,” I said.
“Natalie. I’m tracking you,” my mentor said. “You’re painting a picture. I can’t tell you which strokes to use, but I see the picture.”
Her response was so simple and reassuring, I felt understood. She validated my thought patterns.
Entrepreneurs, by nature, see things differently. They are constantly searching for opportunities, for points of pain and possible improvements in current systems. Such individuals rarely think inside the lines. If they did, things would remain status quo and innovative breakthroughs would be nonexistent. For entrepreneurs, the wheels are always turning and the creative juices rarely stop flowing.
Anyone who has ever experienced the creative process can attest to the fact that it is anything but predictable and rarely clear-cut. Brushstrokes fly all over the place in ways that can make very little sense to an onlooker. Sometimes multiple ideas are at play at once — something that more systematic thinkers might not understand.
I’m not suggesting that one way of thinking is superior to another. Rather I wish to acknowledge and validate that the creative process is messy — and that this is OK. Here are a few ways I try to organize the messiness that is my creative process:
1. Write things down.
Because creative people see potential in so many different situations, they are usually juggling multiple ideas at once. I find that in the quiet moments of one project, I’m often pondering my next idea. As an entrepreneur, I can’t “turn off” my creativity. It would be detrimental to my growth and potential.
Instead of putting your idea maker on mute, I suggest keeping lists. Create an “idea inventory.” Write down your ideas. Keep lists of projects that you’re currently working on: What have you done? What do you still need to get done?
If you carefully track each project that you’re involved in and each one that you’d like to do, you can inject a healthy amount of organization into your creative process. Done right, this will let you expend your creative energy while making significant progress on the tasks at hand.