Idea Hoarding

I once had a job as an assistant to a photography agent.  She was quite the busy bee running her own agency, and being a mom and wife all at the same time.  One of the projects she tasked me with was organizing her mountainous piles of magazines she collected.  Along with design and photography magazines, she also collected retail catalogs since a lot of her clients published catalogs.

What was really odd was that I never saw my boss actually read any of those magazines.  She was too busy running the business.  So I asked her why she collected all these magazines.  She told me that they were good for references material, inspiration, and that she used them to prospect for new photographers and new clients.

It took me nearly a week to finish collating all the various magazines, and then organizing them onto the bookshelves.  We ended up with two full bookshelves from floor to ceiling!  I was both envious and in awe of the display.  So much so that, I started collecting similar magazines for myself.

Even after I left the agency, I not only continued my collection, I expanded the topics to design, creativity, social media, psychology, and entrepreneurship.  I then started collecting books and newspaper articles along those same studies.  I wanted to be immersed in knowledge.  But really, I was immersed in piles of paper.

I realized that what I was doing was idea hoarding.  I was hoarding these magazines, books and newspaper clipping just in case I needed them, but I had no idea how I was going to actually use this knowledge later.  In fact, I didn’t even have time to read all the things I collected.  That is no different from hoarding scraps of garbage.  Having a medical kit just in case of a medical emergency is one thing.  There is no such thing as an idea emergency.

I ended up selling all of my books except for a few that I absolutely loved.  I also tossed all my magazines and newspaper clips.  I will admit that I do still by books once and a while, and I still buy an occasional magazine.  But most of my ideation research is done on the Internet, or at the library.  Sometimes I’ll go the bookstore just to read a few passages here and there, but rarely buy anything.  My focus now is more on creating rather than collecting.

Being an artist or an entrepreneur means you are a creator.  You aren’t really creating anything by collecting ideas.  The only thing you are creating is a pile.  You could actually find more inspiration and resources on the Internet.  Should you actually have an idea emergency, a search engine will be more useful than a pile of magazines.

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