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This is me, Kelly Hevel
Tag Archives: creative methods
Be like a mother sea turtle: lay an egg.
Actually, lay many eggs.
Matthew Diffee, cartoonist for the New Yorker, gave a talk entitled “How to be an Idea Factory”. His method? Sit down at a table for an hour (or however long it takes to drink a pot of coffee) and free-associate with a pencil and a piece of paper. This exercise leaves him with a lot of, ahem, bad eggs. But it also usually leaves him with a couple good ideas.
Diffee’s advice for aspiring creative people, according to an article in Forbes, is this: “Be like a mother sea turtle.”
So what does a mother sea turtle do? She lays a lot of eggs on the beach then swims away, leaving them to fend for themselves. Some of them never hatch. Many of them hatch, only to be gobbled up immediately by predators. But that’s not the mother sea turtle’s concern. Her only job is to keep laying eggs.
Lately have seen the wisdom in this. I have been madly laying eggs for a couple months now. Lots of ideas and opportunities have presented themselves and then faded away. In some cases I have followed the idea through only to let it go then have it resurface a few months later and turn into something fantastic.
For example, in October I was invited to do a workshop for high school students, and immediately sent a proposal. I followed up, but a few months passed with no progress so I let it go. Suddenly, the school got back to me, and very quickly the workshop was planned, coordinated, and off I went to deliver it. Now, unlike the mother sea turtle I do check in on my “eggs” periodically if the opportunity presents itself. But I don’t fixate on one or smother it with attention. I have other eggs to lay!
Many of the egg/opportunities I have laid have led to another, which led to another. In fact, I believe reaching critical mass in the multitude of eggs laid and ideas sown allows ideas to multiply and lead us to new ideas, new connections, new opportunities.
Turkey is a good place to foster and grow the ability to not become too attached to any one idea. All you can do is throw it out there and see if there is a place for it. I am offered a myriad of opportunities. Many of the most enthusiastic ideas/partnerships/collaborators just fade away, and this seems to be normal here. When it comes to new projects, most go nowhere, some become something fantastic, and I have yet to learn to identify which is which in the beginning. So I pursue interesting projects, follow-up once or twice, and then have learned to let it go. Perhaps the project is not meant to be, perhaps the potential collaborator is off laying her own eggs and will get back to me eventually, perhaps we’ll hatch the idea later.
In any case, I still have a job to do. Every day I have to lay an egg.