Look, we all know that feeling. You sit down to an exciting new project, you’re coming up with ideas, the first couple are okay, they hit the brief, but they’re not the best.
Then, you reach a point where the answers don’t come too easily.
The low hanging fruit of the ideas tree is gone and after a while, we go full Ian Beale. That place, that horrible, awful place is sometimes known as The Throne of Agony.
The creative process
Here’s how the ideas process works as a whole.
Whether you’re a writer, filmmaker or simply coming up with content for your social channels, this applies to us all in all forms of creativity. It kinda goes like this:
You start off with possibility. At this point you’re starting fresh, the world is a beautiful place. You’re full of optimism and super pumped and ready to create your next best thing.
You’re bouncing ideas around and feeling pretty great…
…then you show somebody.
Maybe they’ve started poking holes in your ideas, maybe you did it yourself. You start to feel a bit unsure and think that things weren’t as solid as you once thought.
That’s when you reach that lovely bit of agony.
This is the place where you start to doubt yourself, your ideas and your abilities…maybe life in accounting sounds a bit nicer (and in some ways easier).
But guess what, if you stick at it you’ll get a classic epiphany moment.
Something happens, you break through that glass ceiling and you find something that solves a problem and what you’ve been looking for.
You ride this positivity all the way to the final stage — finesse. You’ve shaped that nugget of a concept into a sparkling piece of jewellery and you get fully behind yourself and your idea.
Now you’re ready to take it to others to get them to believe in it too.
The Throne of Agony
But what I’m talking about today, is step three ‘Agony’.
I want people to know it’s here and I want people to know that it’s okay to be there.
Agony is where the ideas come from and is arguably the most important part of the whole process. It’s the opportunity to make something new, but it’s also the opportunity to make something brilliant.
It’s something we all go through, and here are some of my tips on how to deal with it.
Embrace the struggle
Sometimes it’s about sticking with an idea, even though someone may have poked holes in it and you feel a bit downtrodden, it’s about not giving up. Because sometimes that idea just needs a little development and work and it could be the answer you’re looking for.
Creative or Comfortable
Now I reckon it can’t be both.
To quote some visual art; my first feature film:
Life isn’t about being comfortable, it’s about constant challenge, constant fear. How else are we meant to achieve greatness if we’re not a little bit f***ing scared all the time?
Ooft. Pretty inspiring stuff.
Stop beating yourself up for feeling insecure and doubting your abilities and thinking people have found you out and that you don’t belong here.
Most people who have created something amazing have gone through the exact same thing.
So how do you climb out the other side? Everyone might have their own ladder out, but here’s my personal approach:
- I like to go silly. I go way too big and over the top and then bring it back down. Because if you stick with those silly ideas, to the core there may actually be something there.
- I like to find inspiration in things outside of the medium I’m creating for. Art, music, and even just going outside and taking a walk can really put a different perspective on things.
- I like to talk to people. Even if it’s just to discuss the place I’m at, just saying it out loud might help you unlock something you hadn’t seen or thought of yet.
You cannot skip it
Unfortunately, you cannot skip it. We need space to fail and it’s in these failings that we’ll find true success.
THIS is the space to fail in, and it’s okay to do so.
The Throne of Agony is a terrifying and draining place to be; but instead of fearing it or beating yourself up about it, expect it as part of the process and it will help you to climb that wall out the other side.
If you can stick sitting in it, you’ll develop a skill that means you can think under pressure and find solutions without it sinking you or your spirits.
So next time you find yourself sitting on the throne. Remember, embrace it, keep at it and you’ll climb out the other side. And if you ever wanna chat it through, then I’m all ears.