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Not again, are you kidding me?  I feel a familiar pull in the back of my yoga pants.  Then a thousand little prickles on the backs of my thighs.  I’m in the middle of a session and really can’t take time for discomfort.  “You’re doing great!  Walk forward, reach for the edges of your shirt, look down and then back up at me, that’s it!”.   I’m photographing a middle school boy, and right now both of us are trying to look like we’re not a little in pain.

We finish that location and I stand up. The back of my legs are covered in microscopic wooden splinters – the really evil kind you can only get from sun bleached deck furniture.  I pull as many out as I can but they’re small and really latched in and I’m feeling like T-rex trying to reach the backs of my thighs.  There is no time to get comfortable.  We keep going even though it’s like getting an allergy test each time I take a step.    I never get splinters from my couch.

We’re off to a bridge now, with a view of the city.  I have a rule that every session has to be different, from exploding baseballs to Starbucks-sipping ballerinas.  Today I’m trying out a technique called “dragging the shutter” to make the cars blurry in a way that frames my client.  

It was actually Justin’s rule first, he is my husband, videographer and business partner.  The rule about every session being different was his idea.  I would have been content to switch it up every once in a while like most photographer’s do but . . . no.  He said we could do new concept, style, technique or idea every_single_time.  Um, that was a lot of ideas to come up with and execute.  Who could possibly maintain that?  With 50+ clients a year that level of creative output is intimidating!  

In my anxiety I did what I always do – I made a list.  It was a list of my “creative session ideas”.  I would have preferred that the list wasn’t so short.  There were 15  ideas and 47 high school seniors over just 4 months.  Worse yet, I found myself not wanting to “use up” my ideas.  Have you ever had an idea so good you just wanted to save it?  Maybe for a time you feel good enough to pull it off or for something very special?  That was my instinct too.  To hoard my ideas out of fear that I’d never have another good one.  

This is not an uncommon experience or fear for creatives and content generators.  Our main business resource can’t be purchased, it just has to show up.  If you don’t know where it comes from, it is a scary resource to expend.  If I use up all of my ideas, where will I get more?  The answer is not what you think.

Creative ideas are like splinters – you pull them out of your ass.

What I mean is the sun-bleached bench has splinters because of how many people sit on it, the skateboarders that glide across it, the kids that climb it, the travelers that scuff it with suitcases.  It is out in the sun and the notorious North Carolina hurricanes and an itty bitty amount of snow.  The wood itself is attractive but delicate, prone to showing its wear.  

From that bench the splinter . . . a little piece ready to break free.

You too are sun-bleached and worn with time, a combination of people who have passed by and experiences lived.  You too have seen different seasons each leaving their mark.  And like the bench, a little piece is ready to splinter off.  Creativity is just a piece of you waiting to break free.  

Before I got in the car I tried to dust off as many splinters as I could, T-rex arms flailing.  I had to sit on most of them during the ride home, which was kind of like sitting on a wire cat brush.  I took off my pants and plucked out the splinters I could see.  Then I washed them in the washer.  Then I washed them again.  When they got out of the dryer there were still splinters everywhere.  The more I looked, the more I found.  The more I plucked them out, the more that seemed to show up.  Splinters never travel alone.

To hold on to an idea out of fear of not getting another one would be no better than choosing to live with the discomfort of a thousand splinters in the ass you never cared to remove.  The act of executing your creativity is what gives you more creative ideas. You can sit there as frustrated as T-rex with pants full of splinters or you can pull them off one by one.  In pulling off one great success – there will be another.  

Splinters make other splinters.

Creative ideas make other creative ideas.

Don’t save your best ideas.  Don’t hold on to something you shouldn’t.  You are not the person today that you will be in a year.  What you create today is totally different than what you will create tomorrow.  Do it now, while it’s under your skin.