Building an Idea Museum

What is an Idea Museum?

I love the concept of an idea museum partly because I am a collector.  Don’t get me wrong when I say Collector.  I’m not a hoarder by any means.  In fact, I am a huge minimalist.  Every six months I go through my closet to make sure that I don’t have things in there that I’m not wearing.  (I might have to do an article on how to clean out your life actually).  I don’t like clutter.  My books are arranged by color and size and every night before I settle down for bed, one of the things that I do to whined down is actually walk around my space and make sure that the surfaces are clear, doors to closets are closed sand everything is where it is supposed to be.  So not a collector in that way at all. 

What I am is a collector of ideas.  I love having different lists and ideas in m journal.  Books to read, quotes that I want to use, weather and the places that I am in at the end of the day, crude sketches of things that I want to make when it comes to food and pottery.  I even have a list of seeds that I want to find and plant in my garden (Which will never be big enough for my list if we are being realistic).    Story ideas, character names, work outs I want to try, heck even haircuts. 

This should sound familiar.  It sounds like Pinterest right? 

Little did I know that this is actually a Idea Museum.  Of course, it existed long before Pinterest to people who journaled, or scrap booked.  Pre internet days requires newspaper and a magazine clipping, books to put them physically in, ticket stubs shoved hastily into wallets so that we wouldn’t forget, those weird clear pages for business cards or large pieces of paper that I put into binders.  The world was far more cluttered pre internet days wasn’t it. 

The difference is that when you had a physical binder to go back to, that sat staring at you from your shelf, you were more inclined to look back at it, even if some of your ideas from when you were 13 probably make you cringe as much as mine do…or if we are being more positive, laugh and the drama and illusion of your 13 year old self. 

Regardless of how we store the ideas in our museum though, the concept of an idea museum is probably not new to any type of creator.  We are all collectors of ideas.  I just find that most of us don’t have a name for this concept.  None of us is going to remember any idea in our head and for people who do more visual recreation, having a reference is a completely different process that we need.

An Idea Museum is more then just storage though.  Its inspiration for when we feel dry.  We can’t create all the time and intellectually we know this, but that doesn’t make creative constipation any easier to swallow when it rears its ugly and self-deprecating head.  Even for this National Novel writing month project, when I have an idea for a topic, I have to write it in my bullet journal or risk loosing it forever.  This curation can be as big or as small as we need it to be, as detailed or generalized as what works for us and out media. Every creator and artist is different. 

Before you cry plagiarism, remember that collecting things that inspire you is NOT plagiarism.  Unless you are copying a sentence word for work or copying a painting, every idea is a derivative of another idea that came before it.  This world is too old and there have been too many people in it to think that every idea has to be completely original to be art.  In fact the concept of creating something totally new and unthought of before in any dividend is actually pretty narcissistic.  Even face book was hot or not when it started.  The concept of “A wall” Is really just a big community board that hangs in your local supermarket or coffee shop.  None of this is new.

Of course the concept of authenticity could be a topic all on its own but I will stick to the point that when you are inspired by another artist, you are inspired, not copying (Unless you are outright copying which is something you will know if you are doing it.).  If you don’t look around and appreciate other people and the work in the same field, most of all of those that are ‘better’ or have been doing it longer then you, chances are that you’re never actually going to get better at your craft.

There are a few different ways to tap into your idea museum.  But the entire point is that it is easy to remember it and easy to put things into it. Like anything else, if you’re not going to use it, don’t force it.  It should work for you.  Not for anyone else or with any other trend.  Just make it work for you and for your medium.  For me I love pintrest.  Most of all for ceramics and other things that are visual.  But that doesn’t work for my writing persay so I also have my journal and bulleting with little bright purple sticky notes to show that that’s where the writing parts are. 

So the first is Pintrest:  As I said this is great for visual.  I have clothes, nails, character vision boards, and recipies in there because its easier to save a recipe I want to try then to try and scribble it down. 

I also have my journal.  I use this for….well journaling obviously but I also use it to make lists.  Book lists, podcast lists, quotes I want to remember.  All of that.  It also works great for things like sketching out a shape really quick that I want to see.  I also grab things like paint swatches and the like.  The Journal I use is a German brand, Letchum, and has a great little pocket in the back of it. 

Don’t over think it.  Use your phone to take picture of things that you like, textures you see, if you can’t grab it, and just about everything else.  Of course there are a million apps for everything and I do use some of them but I also just take pictures of books and the little that I want to read if I don’t have time to write them down.  You can write them down later so that you have them all in one place. 

All of these are easy, at your disposal ways to keep an Idea Museum.  One of the things that I find are a real struggle is the fact that there all so many apps that you can use.  I love things like All claims and Goodreads, Amazon lists if you are into products and amazon.  But for me, I know that if I use too many different things, I wont actually check them or remember to look back at them when I’m already seeped in the feeling of insecurity that comes from a lack of inspiration.  Its easy to give up and say that you’ll do it tomorrow so it needs to be even easier to find your inspiration.  I try to keep my idea museum in one or two places so that its really easy to get to.  I also try and just look at it instead of scrolling through Pintrest or even sometimes Instagram.  Its really easy to get caught in Corgi videos and that’s not helpful so I do try and get to my journal first. 

In general I love the idea of an idea museum.  Its like we all have this little museum inside of us and we get to curate every single little thing that we like, every moment we treasure and every thought that brings us joy and creativity.  That is what being a creative is really about, finding those little nuggets of gold and holding them close.  Don’t think that anything is worthless if you love it, if it brings you joy, if it inspires you.  That is the nature of art.  It doesn’t need to be in the MET.  It doesn’t have to win awards.  It is what inspires and cultivates the things that are growing inside of you. 

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