Captains Curious: Conquering the Curse of Curiosity

Welcome to Captains Curious, a weekly series of guest posts on the subject of Curiosity. The newest member of the Captains Curious is Colin Beveridge! To learn about the other Captains Curious, please click here.

Try Not To Have Ideas

Here’s a guaranteed way to come up with half a dozen ideas: Sit down in a quiet room with no distractions and try to clear your mind of all thoughts. Give it, say, half an hour. At the end of your time, write down all the ideas that popped into your head while you were trying not to have them.

The Curse: Suddenly You’re In a Bind

This is The Curse of Curiosity. Every time you get started on something, your brain starts asking curious questions: “Ooh! How about this? Or that?” And suddenly you’re in a bind: Do you keep slogging away at the boring old idea that has just been completely eclipsed by your exciting new revelation and risk forgetting it, or do you drop everything and set out on the new adventure?

It’s a difficult balance to find. If you always slog on, you risk your brain getting the message that its brilliant ideas are worthless, which makes it that much harder to generate good ideas when you need them. If you always switch to the new idea, you never finish anything (and my hard drive full of incomplete stories, websites and other assorted pieces of work is testament to that).

My Solution: A Middle Way

My favorite solution to The Curse is a middle way: Write the idea down, no matter how crazy, then finish what I’m doing.

The ideas I’ve written down then go in a safe place – I keep them in a marmalade jar, but you might prefer a file on your computer or a notebook – to be dipped into when I’m feeling uninspired (or have some rare free time). Charlie Gilkey came up with a brilliant metaphor, calling this safe place your ‘idea garden’ – somewhere you put your ideas to grow, although you have to look after it carefully to get the best results.

Having Ideas Is Easy. The Hard Part Is…

Having ideas is easy. Picking which ones to act on now is the hard part.

There are worse curses to be under, though: Imagine never having ideas. Now, that would be a real curse.

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Colin Beveridge (@icecolbeveridge, is a math confidence coach and author of the UK version of Basic Maths For Dummies. He helps children and adults overcome their fear of math and start to discover its beauty. He lives in Poole, England with an espresso pot and nothing to prove.

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Would you like to submit a guest post on the subject of Curiosity? Send an email to susan {at} susanTblake {dot} com with the subject line: Captains Curious.

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7 Responses to Captains Curious: Conquering the Curse of Curiosity

  1. Paula -Creative Catalyst May 5, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    Oh Colin — Why does it not surprise me at all that you keep your clever new ideas safe in a marmalade jar??


  2. Colin Beveridge May 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Hehe! It’s where such things belong :o)

  3. Susan May 5, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    This is certainly a challenge to us Scanners, and I thank you for sharing the Middle Way! I also thank you for the suggestion for people who think they never have ideas. 🙂

  4. Claire Tompkins May 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    Yes, what to do with all those ideas! Perhaps our friend Alexia’s brand new, shiny Idea Evaluator Kit would help?

  5. SilverMagpies May 6, 2011 at 4:34 am #

    An idea garden 🙂 what a great way to put it! Thanks to Claire Tompkins I’ve come up with a wonderful way to capture all the ideas popping up (demanding for attention) and keep them safe and sound until I get to them.

    But the thought of no ideas at all *shudder*

  6. Colin Beveridge May 6, 2011 at 6:44 am #

    Claire: That is possibly the funnest sales page I’ve ever seen. And it has math on it! Rock on.

    Nancy: I know, no ideas would be a nightmare. Don’t let’s ever get there!


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