By Ivan Meakins
Where do all the bad ideas go?
As a creative entrepreneur, you’ve probably had more than your fair share of bad ideas – those really terrible ones that you lock away because they don’t deserve to see the light of day (or so you think).
But what if I told you there was a way you could convert those ideas into creative masterpieces?
Pixar did it in the late ‘90s, turning a rough sketch into one of the most beloved animated characters of all time. In this article, I’ll show you why you need to embrace your bad ideas (like Pixar did). With the right love, they might just become your next masterpiece.
The creation of Lunar Larry
1994, Richmond, California. A group of animators, screenwriters, and producers are in the middle of a heated debate. They’re surrounded by various sketches of a cartoon astronaut with an “LL” insignia on his spacesuit.
This was Lunar Larry, and at the time John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios, wasn’t a huge fan. Larry, in all his various sketches and designs, was a total disaster. And if John was hoping to rival Disney, Lunar Larry had to go. He was too childish and simply not enough to beat Disney’s powerhouses at the time – The Lion King and Aladdin.
But two years later, Toy Story hit the big screen, featuring a key character – Buzz Lightyear. Lunar Larry had been redesigned into an incredibly likeable character – one that would captivate kids for years to come. Toy Story went on to become the highest-grossing Pixar movie, raking in $373 million worldwide on its opening weekend and collecting three Academy Award nominations to boot.
And it all started with a bad idea.
Letting go of perfectionism
As creatives, we often believe that our ideas need to be a hit straight off the bat. If they aren’t, then they’re not worth developing at all. According to Steven Pressfield in his book, The War Of Art, something holds people back from creating. The fear of creating something terrible (and getting judged for it) stalls your pen in the air.
But here’s the thing. Looking for perfection right off the bat is incredibly flawed and actually gets in our way a lot more often than we think. To truly create impactful content that people will remember for generations to come, you have to wade through countless mediocre creations before hitting the jackpot.
The Pixar team needed Lunar Larry to create Buzz Lightyear. What do you need or currently have that could lead to your own masterpiece?
The power of a bad idea
As we’ve already established, terrible ideas – the ones that really make you cringe – are a vital part of the creative process. Without them, the creative fires lurking inside us will probably never be ignited.
We have to bring all our rubbish ideas to life (no matter how terrible they sound) without paying attention to judgment from other people around us or from within.
The big question here is: how do you decide which ideas are worth developing? And how do you transform them into pure gold?
I’ll leave you with a simple exercise.
How to turn your Lunar Larry into a Buzz Lightyear
Think about your ideal audience. What do they really need? What unanswered questions do they have? Brainstorm every single question or problem they need help solving and the message that you want to convey in your content about how you can answer those questions or solve those problems.
Next, think about how you want to deliver that message. Is it going to be through a podcast or an interactive webinar? Perhaps you want to record yourself delivering your service to a client and share that on your socials as content.
The important thing here is that you get all your ideas out on paper and then sleep on them for a few days. Taking a break from your ideas means that you’ll be coming back with a fresh perspective. With this new perspective, you can eliminate anything that you can’t or don’t want to deliver on. Ideally, you should trim the list down to about three to ten ideal topics and ONE method of delivery (a podcast, blog, book, or even YouTube videos).
Now you have the raw material that you need. Iterate these ideas until you find the one that really gets you pumped.
While it may take a while to trim down your list and find a fresh perspective, that ONE idea will eventually hit you like a thunderbolt out of the sky. And that’s when you know that you’ve found your Buzz Lightyear – something that will make a difference to you, your business and your audience.
I hope you’ve found this exercise helpful.
If you’d like to get more content ideas and tips to capture the hearts and minds of your audience, check out our podcast, Content Untapped.
And if you’d welcome the expertise of a professional team to get those ideas out of your head, book a Clarity Call today to find out how we can help.