Monday, March 26, 2012

Shelf Life On Ideas

In general, I wouldn't say that ideas have a shelf-life. Ideas should be timeless. And although your ideas may affect people for centuries after you write them, your window of opportunity to write them may be shorter than you think.

My list of blog post ideas has entries that date back to the first month I started Cheff Salad. I will very likely never use those ideas. Even when I can't think of something and I peruse my list, those entries never seem to strike my fancy. It's like, when I wrote down the idea originally, I had every intention to use it, but because I kept putting it off, the idea has lost its energy and I've lost my interest in them.

I will admit that ideas can can come back to life, but I've found it quite rare. I will also say that some ideas live longer than others. But eventually, ideas will go away. Recording the thoughts will not be enough. If you want something to be written, get it done before the shelf life on your ideas expires.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great topic. The shelf life of this particular topic seems to keep getting extended for me. In fact, I'm starting to suspect that it's a central topic for me. I cast your question, Kevin, as Where does writing come from? Where does it go (that is, how does it change us and our readers)? How do we sustain and return to writing (a fancy way of saying, how do we revise?) On top of this is a meta-topic: how does one teach these questions in a way that makes them opportunities for action (not just inert or academic questions with standard answers)? The best way to answer this is by writing. When it's working right, writing causes change. It doesn't necessarily make the writer satisfied, but it maps out what's sayable and what's interesting. Sustaining an idea is always a matter of returning to it (for me), and by repeatedly knocking into it, more is revealed. I am a big proponent of sustainability, and your question gets right to the heart of it: how does one sustain attention to a topic and even, in the bigger sense, sustain writing (as you have done in this blog) or sustain writing in a community? Those are my big questions. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to revisit them. DRF