An interesting side effect of being involved in various YouTube communities (forums, Facebook groups, and the Creator Community right on YouTube) is seeing the creative process of other creators on the platform. YouTube is definitely a place where the average age of creators skews young, so I try to keep that in mind when I am reading their posts.
One thing I see regularly, across all these forums is the request for video ideas. For some reason, YouTube creators are under the impression that they don’t have any ideas, and they ask the world-at-large for ideas to make into videos.
In some respects, I understand it. Gamer channels want to find the most interesting games to play, or channels that are concerned with being on-trend don’t want to miss whatever is hot at the moment, because trends and memes get stale as quickly as they get popular. However, what makes me sad are those creators who insist that they want to make videos, but they think they simply don’t have any ideas at all.
If this is you, I want to assure you that you have plenty of ideas, even if you don’t think you do. Every day, our heads are filled with thousands of ideas about things we could make or sing or draw, and the main problem we have is in not recognizing them as such. Over and over again, we as creative people are given the message that ideas are fleeting, that they are the most important part of the creative process, and all it will take is “one good idea” to make it big as an artist.
I think that messaging is damaging to creative people. Ideas are as common ass dirt, and what’s important is the work we do after we take an idea and begin to make something out of it. So many stories are built upon the Hero’s Journey that it’s easy to identify it, but that doesn’t mean that the authors of those stories didn’t have their own ideas.
The important thing about an idea is what you do with it after you choose it. So just about anything could be an idea for a video (or a painting, or a story, or a song). If you feel that you are without ideas, I think that it’s more important to train your mind to recognize when you’re having ideas that can be used for your art, and what to do after the ideas-gathering process.
The other thing that’s important is recognizing that no idea, in itself, is better or worse than any other prior to execution. Certainly, you could have a brilliant idea for a video, or a play, or a sculpture, but if you only have the idea, it’s not worth anything. A great deal of the time, we reject ideas because we don’t have the time, talent, or resources to make them work for us, and then reject them. I find a checklist approach to any ideas I have can help me focus on creation more than idea-gathering:
- How can I create this in the time I have available?
- What can I do to scale this idea to the resources I have at-hand?
- Is there a way to break this idea up into actionable segments that can be created, starting today?
- Can I add this idea to something I’m already building?
- Is something tangential to this idea workable as a stand-alone project?
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I hope it gives you some thought as to the process of moving away from the concept that you have no ideas to the better state of taking whatever ideas you almost certainly do have and putting them into action.
You have no idea how many ideas you already have. With an open mind, you can grab any one of them and start creating.