Concept: Distill ideas
There is a wonderful thing that happens when someone carves a saying into pure marble. The saying is usually pretty darn good. There is no magical property that marble has; it’s all about effort. If you are going to take the time, patience and money that it take to carve something into marble, you’re going to make sure that it is worth carving. Rarely do we ever see a beautifully carved masterpiece that reads: “Pick up the kids at 3.”
(insert picture of “pick up the kids at 3″ carved into marble)
How, then, do we get an idea worthy enough to be written in marble? There is a process called distilling. Distilling is the process of separating out material to enrich the good stuff and make it more pure. Good writers do this too…like Plato, Sun Tzu, Shakespeare, and maybe even John Grisham. They distill ideas until you have their essence, then clearly communicate them. They takes a buffet of ideas, and turn them into a beautiful meal.
There are fabulous books in which ideas are distilled to the perfect amount. It’s like making a key lime pie. If you don’t put any lime in it, you’re basically eating egg and sugar. If you add too much lime, it’s too sour. If you make it just right, it can be fantastic and tangy; and the beautiful thing is that if you’re careful and observant, you can figure out the ratio, and for the rest of your life you can produce the most beautiful pies…or even ideas.
What you can do for yourself:
First, keep a notebook or journal on you all the time if possible. Every time you have an idea, good or bad, write it down. Not only will you not lose the idea, but now you know that the idea is down on paper, and you can think more about it when you have the time. Then you can focus on what you have to do at that moment.
Every few days, go through your journal and sort it out. Find out which ideas you want to take action on, and which ones are just interesting. The action ideas are the ones you do something about, obviously.
Put the ideas that are just interesting in a big file. The computer is great place for this file because you can key-word search it.
This is handy for 2 reasons.
- Themes: You will discover themes in your random notes. If you find that you keep writing down notes about painting a mural, then that is something you should look into. In fact, you should make a file that has all your notes about murals in one place, take all those good ideas, distill them, and go out and do it.
- Plagiarism: You can plagiarize your own ideas. When you are writing to a friend or co-worker and you need something funny or interesting to say, you can just plagiarize your own notes.
If you want to change the world for the better, the best thing to do is:
1. Distill what you know into a neat little package so that you understand it backwards and forwards.
2. Translate that distilled material into something that people are going to want to swallow (highly relatable stories and stupid jokes work well.)
3. Make it easily available to the select people who would be likely to benefit from the use of your ideas.