Creators log

Idea Bankruptcy vs Idea Glut

5 February 2024

I heard someone on a podcast reframe the idea of “writer’s block” as “idea bankruptcy.” He argued that those who are experiencing “writer’s block” are really at a loss for ideas. Conversely, he suggested, artists brimming with ideas don’t face writer’s block.

I like this reframing of “writer’s block” as “idea bankruptcy” because pins creative output to ideas, plans, and project based creativity. And because it offers a practical solution: if you’re experiencing symptoms of writer’s block, just sit down and drum up some plans.

But if someone can have a paucity of ideas, then certainly someone can have too many of them. Having too many creative ideas might be the opposite of idea bankruptcy: idea glut.

Idea glut is the paralyzing sensation of having too many creative ideas. The sheer number of ideas diminishes the value of any one of them. Why? Because when we have too many ideas, we find it hard to focus on and develop the few. It is akin to the paradox of choice, where having too many options can hinder decision-making and progress.

The sweet spot is perhaps somewhere in the middle, in a goldilocks zone of creative ideas between “idea bankruptcy” and “idea glut” where you have enough ideas to fuel continuous creativity, yet not so many that you’re immobilized by choice.

I suffer from idea glut. I am currently trying to deal with it. I have too many ideas, too many options, too many open tabs. I need to close most of them to focus on the ones that matter most.

The million-dollar question remains: how does one navigate from the extremes of “idea bankruptcy” or “idea glut” to the prosperous middle ground?