“In writing, you must kill your darlings.” –William Faulkner
When I started my career as a web developer it was at an advertising agency. In advertising the saying “Kill your darlings” is pretty common. Sometimes you have an idea that you fall in love with but the idea does not bring anything to the whole, it might even destroy the meaning of a story, advertising campaign or web site. The issue is that you’re so in love with it that you have a problem with removing it. You always have to be prepared to kill your darling.
Now, my whole point in writing this is actually the opposite of that quote. Yes I know, why bring it up at all. With ideas, I never kill anything, no matter if it’s a darling or plain bad. When I have ideas I always write them down. I have a notebook in my bag where I write down my thoughts and ideas, and I have a digital notebook in OneNote where I organize and keep working on those ideas.
Some ideas are totally worthless, some are good but not great, some are great but not perfect. When discovering that an idea is bad the natural reaction would be to throw it away, but I always keep everything.
Even a bad idea may become a good one. Sometimes when I come up with a new idea and enter it into OneNote I notice and remember my previous ideas. During the time since I last saw them I might have had new experiences, new thoughts and so on and it might pivot the idea so it’s suddenly goes from bad to good. It might also be that the time wasn’t right for a specific idea but now it is.
Why save bad ideas and waste time on them? Well, first of all I don’t spend a lot of time on my old ideas but often I get a new idea or thought and remember this old idea so I look it up and do some changes or additions. My main reason is that I don’t have enough time to implement my ideas, even if I believe in them. I work fulltime and in my spare time I spend time with my family and friends, renovate our house, work out, relax and enjoy myself. But if that moment come when I have a lot of time I don’t want to spend weeks trying to find a good idea. My first place to look is my notes and there might be a real nugget in there.
So my suggestion is:
Collect as many ideas as possible.
Go back to them once in awhile to change or add, let them mature.
Pivot if needed, find the gold.
When you have the time and resources to implement an idea you might have a treasure to pick from.