Ideating is a lot like discovering love—you are slightly wary of the direction you are going, but you still want to give it your best shot. And when it fails, you are left wondering where you went wrong. Take my case, for instance. Every time I work on a new brief, and it doesn’t come to fruition, I look back with a lot of pain. It’s hard to let go of those moments, no matter how brief they were.
The first encounter is always special. I see a brief, and am immediately flooded with emotions. How do I approach it? How do I give it the best treatment? What if the moment I take a step it turns on its heels and walks away? What if it instead chooses to pause and tell me “No, you are not good enough; this is not the future I was looking at”? Most often, however, I choose to believe that it holds a lot of promise. It’s here to stay for a while.
Enter the next phase, and I am already beaming with happiness. I am convinced that, with a considerable amount of devotion, I’d be able to make our relationship work. Inspiration, it whispers into my ears, is all you need. So I go looking for it. For starters, I need a cup of coffee, preferably scalding hot and with very little sugar.
Next, I imagine that I am perched on a hill, and there is so much quietness around me that I can hear nothing but the ramblings of my mind. Sometimes, I take to humming a song, or doodling abstract art. And voila! I have my Eureka moment, so much so that I am tempted to say it out loud like Archimedes when he saw his bathwater rise.
When nothing strikes, it’s a signal that I have been thinking too much. So I stop, look around, take a trip to the washroom, stretch a little. And when I am back, I find, much to my astonishment, the brief waiting for me.
“I am so-rrrrr-yyyy,” I stutter. “I haven’t been able to think of exciting things for you and me.”
“It’s okay,” it says. “Have you tried looking under your desk? You might just find something there.”
Do I listen to it? Of course I do. The things love makes you do.
But all this is possible only if the brief is clear in its intentions. What does it want? What is its goal? What are its inherent features? How big is it aiming? It has to specify its needs; it has to communicate with me. Otherwise, how am I to pander to its wishes? Surely, it isn’t a jigsaw puzzle for me to solve?
One time, however, I managed to make a brief happy even though it wasn’t willing to give away a lot of information.
“Dude, how did you manage to do it, I mean…I was pretty stuck-up and all…” it asked me while leaving.
“You cross the bridge when you come to it,” I replied with a smile, and immediately sensed a halo around my head.
“But but…,” it continued. “How do you manage to keep calm in case your love is not reciprocated–?”
“You mean what happens when my ideas don’t see the light of day?”
“I move on.”
If only it were true!
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