It’s not the uncertainty that stops us; it’s our fear of uncertainty.
There’s this myth that knowledge is power. That might be true for diplomats and CEOs, but for creatives, curiosity is power.
The myth tells us not knowing equals stupid. When we have to admit we don’t know something, we believe we are diminished.
On the contrary, not knowing is an opportunity!
Uncertainty is the tuition for discovery. You can’t find new territory without traveling into unknown lands. You can’t see new creative connections without abandoning, or being pushed beyond, what you know for sure.
(Likewise, fear is the tuition for courage. You can’t be courageous if you’re not also afraid.)
People always say your lost keys will be in the last place you look – because who keeps looking once you’ve found what you were looking for?
As long as you’re certain, you don’t look for other possibilities. You maintain the status quo, which is antithetical to creativity. As long as you don’t see a problem, you have no incentive to look at different, perhaps better, options.
How many eggs are in the photo?
When a problem does appear, conventional wisdom says go with the first solution. Once a problem is solved, why waste time continuing to look for more answers?
But the creativity required to write excellently doesn’t arrive in the first idea. The best writing comes from challenging yourself to see multiple perspectives, find multiple solutions and try different approaches in multiple drafts before narrowing in on what will become your final draft.
Writers who are content to send their first draft into the world are looking for a set of keys. Writers who seek to write exceptional manuscripts aren’t looking for keys, they’ve embarked on an Easter egg hunt, where multiple treasures can be found if they keep looking.
Are you looking for keys or Easter eggs?
By the way, did you see the green egg behind the flowers? Did you wonder how many eggs are outside the frame of the photo?
Find out why your own brain defaults to looking for keys in our next post.