Jumping Off Cliffs

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
Kurt Vonnegut

Firstly, no, I am not advocating jumping off cliffs.

I am instead advocating for leaping into a project or something new before being “ready.” Or, as Austin Kleon says in his book, Steal Like an Artist, “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.”

Now, I may not have much credibility writing about this since I’m relatively new at the writing game. And I’ll be the first to admit that I am God-awful at leaping into something new, no matter how much I recognize its worth (I’m the kind of person that likes to dungeon grind before moving on to the final boss).

What I’ve experienced is that throwing myself into something cold creates good ideas, that, after some editing, create good writing. The way I see it, writing is like a river we have to keep flowing, or else we run the risk of ideas becoming stagnant.

Sure, like this, but with your ideas floating in it.

Sure, like this, but with your ideas floating in it.


See? Here's mine...badly photoshopped.

There. Like that.
This is what mine looks like most of the time…though it’s not as badly photoshopped in my head.

This is the reason why I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go. If I have something that lets me immediately record a thought, I keep myself from getting stuck on one idea, allowing me to keep up a constant flow throughout the day. I may not always be listening for ideas, but by keeping the notebook in my pocket, my creativity can keep subconsciously flowing, like the white noise of a stream in the background.

The same goes from jumping into a project before being “ready.” There’s a lot of times where I get stuck on an idea, but I don’t right it, because I think I’m not “ready” for it yet. Since reading Kleon’s book, I’ve begun to flat out take the leap into writing.

And you know what I’ve found out?

It’s awesome. Absolutely awesome. Even the half-finished or half-thought up ideas, once they’re on paper, create more ideas. Sure, none of the ideas are complete (what piece of art or creation really is?), but by getting them on paper, I have the room in my head to branch off and build whole new distributaries of thought, which eventually turn into respectable streams of writing.


About jekcarter

Farmer/Writer/Editor/Advocate for the Imaginary
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