Two days ago I spent my free time—walking, doing the dishes, prepping food—trying my damnedest to conjure up an idea for a short film. The thought of “I want to make a short film one day” crept into my mind, but without a concept, I couldn’t visualize what it would look like.
I looked for an idea in the leaves on the sidewalk, the houses that lined the streets, and the minutiae around my apartment. Nothing. That same night, I brushed my teeth and stepped into the shower. In that instant an idea popped right into my head. It wasn’t a concept that would make sense as a short film, but it was an interesting and inspiring idea. An idea worth exploring.
That’s how ideas work: when you try to conjure one up, they’re elusive. When you least expect it, they show up out of nowhere. It’s a special feeling, and it’s exhilarating when one shows up.
An idea has no inherit value though. Ideas don’t get you very far. Ideas are sparks that need to be used to light larger flames that can burn for more than just an instant. Taking an idea and fleshing it out is a wonderful feeling, but for the times when all you want is a new idea, it’s best to think about anything but.