I've always considered myself to be an "overly creative" individual; I can't help but come up with new ideas for things at a constant rate, to a point where it's been detrimental to my productivity at times. I tend to visualize something nifty in my head, and immediately jot it down on paper, but then the idea just sits there for ages, some never to be heard from again. And at times, a particular idea gets crammed into my head in such a way that I can't do much of anything else until I work it out on paper. Today was such a day; I had serious work that needed doing this morning, but I ended up finding myself distracted by a particular movie idea, which delayed my work by a solid forty minutes. I know there are other people out there that suffer this "condition" as well, and I've spoken with a few of them about it over the years. But we've all encountered the same experiences when we've tried to present our ideas to others: A mentality that "ideas are worth a dime a dozen."
I decided to step away from writing political articles to write this one (I'll get back into political stuff tomorrow, I just needed a break). It stemmed from a conversation I've been having for a few days now with a friend, who thinks I should batch my ideas together and sell them to someone. But I'm convinced that no idea, no matter how well thought out, is going to get purchased by anyone. Our culture has the nasty habit of shunning ideas that aren't partnered with execution. I could have an idea for a Hollywood blockbuster film or an award-winning video game, but no one would care to buy it if there wasn't already a script attached (or a game design document, in the case of video games). And even then, the process is arduous, because the companies that produce our entertainment shy away from original intellectual property, worrying more about financial gain than artistic expression. This is why we see the film industry inundated with remakes and films based off of television shows and video games, and the same can be said for video games, too. The world of television is dominated by reality TV shows, which take little or no creative effort to develop. When everyone wants to invest in "sure things," creativity is muscled out by the tried and true, regardless of how redundant or superfluous that "sure thing" might really be.
How much is an original idea really worth? I've heard people tell me that ideas are worthless unless you're willing to act on them, but is that really true? For instance, I have countless ideas for movies, TV shows, and video games. Most of them are interchangeable; a good idea for a movie might work for TV, as the plot of a video game, or even as a book. I don't consider myself arrogant when I say that some of these ideas are more original and probably offer greater potential than some of the most profitable work we see in the media today. Are those ideas worthless until I put in the effort to produce them? If so, why? It would be literally impossible for anyone to act on every single good idea I have. It simply couldn't be done. I don't have the time, the resources, or the connections to see some of these ideas blossom into life. And in some instances, I don't have the talent! I can write a "skeletal" script for a film, explaining what happens in each scene, but I don't consider myself the sort of writer who could put together a great screenplay, and I couldn't afford to give it a try, either. But that doesn't mean that the ideas themselves aren't great, or that they wouldn't be profitable in the right hands. So are those ideas really worthless? I don't think they are. But value is in the eye of the beholder, so the chances of ever turning a profit and seeing these ideas come to light is slim to none.
And so what should a person with a great idea do when they know they aren't going to be able to act on that idea in the future? Horde the idea away and deny the world a chance to be entertained by it? Give the idea away for free and lose the opportunity to profit from their creative concept? Or come up with the idea and wait around until someone else also comes up with it, which most likely would never happen? If you're an overly-creative person like I am, then this question has probably kept you awake at night on more than one occasion.