What’s the drill: October 27 – Plentiful versus precious ideas

Letting go of ideas is no easy feat.

When I was studying screenwriting as an undergraduate, one of my favorite professors would say over and over again, “don’t be afraid to kill your babies”. Babies are precious. Ideas…not so much.

Holding too strongly to an idea can keep us stuck – creatively, inter-personally, professionally.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but what Professor Elyanow was instilling in us was a confidence that we had an abundance of ideas available to us. Letting go of one or two or three simply created room for more to appear.

Years later when I started Improvising, I was taught a perhaps gentler phrase, “Ideas are plentiful, not precious”.

As a solo screenwriter you are often relying on yourself to hatch a new idea, but as an Improviser you have the talent, ideas, energy, and inspiration of those around you. Ideas can’t be too precious here — the product is not your own. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Beyond instilling confidence that we are all creative and capable people , this phrase reminds us to be flexible, adaptable, and open. Easy, right? Not always.

Often at work we vacillate between the screenwriter role and the Improviser role. We can toy away on our ideas individually and then bring them back to the larger group to amplify, heighten, and synthesize.

Being able to let go of our ideas, to be flexible and open is a tightrope walk that can be difficult to master – on an individual and team basis. But, it reminds us to be kinder to ourselves, more supportive team-mates, leaders and…well, Improvisers.

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