Ideaphoria: How to Enjoy The Wild Ride of Your Creativity

a rush of new ideas
a rush of new ideas

Do you ever get high on new ideas? This is ideaphoria.

The idea fairies come to visit and bring a new song lyric, design, business idea, or a line of poetry, and it’s just brilliant, and you go on an acid trip of creativity, confidence, excitement.

As a writer and entrepreneur, I find that being a successful creative person can be a lot of just showing up at the keyboard. There is a boring, plodding, doggedness to being creative. But once every so often there are flights of fancy. I will be overtaken. The creative gods visit me in a rush of ideaphoria.

The word “enthusiasm” comes from “en theos” — to be with gods. To be visited by a rush of ideas can feel like being visited by gods. Ordinary life fades away. A brilliant new idea will just knock me off my feet and send me to the heavens. Was the idea really all that brilliant? I don’t know. But it feels really fun believing that it is, going on the trip. Sometimes it even feels like an acid trip, my vision is so clear.

My most recent rush of ideaphoria was a Sunday afternoon a few months ago.

I went to buy toilet paper and then wound up walking around my Buenos Aires neighborhood randomly, taking corners intuitively, taking advantage of the fading dappled sun. I thought I would get coffee but walking was so much fun I didn’t want to stop. Note: If you want more ideaphoria in your life, long walks alone are the perfect setting for ideaphoria to strike.

Every city block looked so beautiful to me and every corner turned a new dimension of my idea! I felt giddy, touched by fire, almost the definition of manic. Ideaphoria is exciting but I don’t necessarily trust it. Sometimes it’s a little scary.

This was a good idea. I think it is. It basically has to do with combining the subject matter of the memoir I am working on (about discovering my power through my sensuality) with weeklong tango workshops in Buenos Aires for burnt-out career woman. Have I acted on it yet? Not yet.

Everything that goes up must come down, and with ideaphoria, I’ve found there is often a comedown afterwards.

Not exactly a depression, but a reckoning. I feel a little unclear. Was this idea really that brilliant, or did I go on a drug trip?

It’s important to take my sweet time with discerning which ideas are worth following.

The idea generated through a rush of ideaphoria may be beautiful, but not so easy to execute, and although ideas are fun, ultimately, we learn in this creative life that it is all about the execution. This is what separates people who just have ideas from people who make things happen. The ones who make things happen know there is a long process and it is a big deal to commit to an idea: a book, an album, an online class, or a retreat. Execution takes a lot of consistency, discipline, work, investment.

I often let months, if not a full year, pass between the first time I have an idea and fully acting on it.

With that idea on that Sunday walk in Buenos Aires, I’m still considering it. I may execute on it. Probably. But I’m taking my sweet time. Those ideas that keep coming back to me are the ones to consider pursuing. Those that keep whispering to me of their potential. Those are the ones to invest in. If they fade, just enjoy them for the ride they were.

What to do with these lustrous, glimmering ideas that never take shape?

I’ve had other visions, too, and not acted on them. I used to be distressed by the visions I had in rushes of ideaphoria that never came to be. I almost felt obligated to them because the visions were so euphoric and strong. I felt confused when I didn’t act.

After thinking about ideaphoria now for years, I can see the value even when ideas do not come to be. Each vision does not have to be interpreted so literally.

Each idea is fuel.

Little pieces of one ideaphoric afternoon may get incorporated into another idea. Each ideaphoria is a little drug trip. To be savored. Enjoyed. With no pressure to cross it off the list or actuate it necessarily.

Those little bombs of inspiration can be their own reward, too. The acid trip of an idea can be pleasurable in contrast to the discipline of creativity. One thing I have learned as a writer and teacher is that it really is about the process and not the product. Keeping focused on the process as a creative person is the best way for me to ensure I am enjoying my life and that the work itself is more fun, too. Ideaphoria is a part of enjoying the creative path, whether the ideas come to be or not.

Here are my Rules of Ideaphoria:

  1. Enjoy the ride, even if you don’t execute on the idea.
  2. Know that what goes up also comes down.
  3. Give your ideas time to settle.
  4. Don’t get overly attached to an idea.
  5. Ideas are like love. Let an idea go; if it comes back to you, it’s yours.

What are yours?

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