I Have an Idea
I've had a lot of people eager to share their ideas with me lately, so I'd like to address this in the most loving and caring way I can.
Your ideas are worthless.
Try not to take this the wrong way. I'm not saying just your ideas are worthless, but everyone's. Ideas don't have the value we place on them, and that misappraisal can cause a lot of confusion. So let's all cut it out.
When I was in film school, I made a list of movie ideas four pages long. They were good. I shared them with friends. The ones naive as I co-signed them, but I had one fellow film student ask, "What the hell is this shit?" I was hurt.
I understand now.
What I showed him wasn't work, it was thoughts, and he knew thoughts didn't equal action. We all have imaginations, and we all think up great stuff. It's very common to humans.
But action is what separates the women from the girls. Executing my ideas requires far more effort than conjuring them up, and effort requires energy and time.
Let's examine this in detail.
Years ago, I thought I could make a lot of money coming up with ideas for TV shows. My ideas were good, so someone should pay me for them. One thing I overlooked - the law of supply vs. demand. If everyone can come up with ideas, we have an abundant supply of them. Following that, if everyone can come up with ideas, they don't need ideas from other people. Thus, no demand. This alone should put the matter to rest.
When I decided to pursue writing, I had a lot of people back home say (no one in LA cared), "You're a writer? I have an idea for a movie/TV show. Want to hear it?" No, I didn't. In time, I grew tired of the question - I wasn't sure why.
After moving to LA, I met a lot of people with ideas, but they weren't telling them to me, they were writing them. Work. Every once in a while, someone would say, "I have an idea. How about you write it and we'll go 50/50?"
That's when I got it. Your plan, zombies ruling the Earth and Elvis showing up on my doorstep. Guess what these three things have in common.
It's not the idea that's worth value, but the work to perform it. In the case of a movie or TV show, that work comes in the form of a script. Writing a script takes time; it requires skill and willingness to assert one's self. Most people get taken out there.
I believed this spectacle was unique to screenwriting, but no. I moved to NY to pursue iPhone app development. When socializing with friends, people would often ask what I do, and I'd tell them I make iPhone apps. "Really? I have an idea for an app!"
Same thing, different industry. People actually expected me to write their app for free in exchange for a small percentage of the income. Yikes.
The thing to understand is I write apps for a living; I need the money to buy food and pay rent. When I'm not getting paid to work and have some free time, I work on my own idea. Makes sense, no?
When I suggest someone else do free work to manifest my idea, I'm insulting their craft. I'm saying their time and skill isn't as valuable as mine, and I have no respect for it.
But there's something even worse.
I'm insulting their creativity. Their whole identity. I'm saying their talent isn't as good as mine - they're just labor.
If you have an idea for a movie or TV show, open a word processor and start banging keys. Screenwriter John August devotes an incredible amount of time to help aspiring screenwriters. Larry Brody has maintained TV Writer for years to help aspiring TV writers. Take advantage of these resources.
Even a simple iPhone app isn't as difficult to build as believed. Ray Wenderlich has tons of free tutorials to help aspiring and experienced app makers. In many arts, you'll find those more experienced are willing to help those willing to learn.
Finally, the most important thing; when I'm not willing to expend the time to complete my own idea, it says something about myself. It speaks to my insecurity - of the idea and me. The idea often reflects that.
Sir Ken Robinson has a great TED Talk about education. He's one of the best TED speakers ever, and he struck me with a contention, "...if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original - if you're not prepared to be wrong."
So I have an idea. Be prepared to be wrong. Devote the time to learn the craft, and accomplish your own ideas. It's the only way you'll be happy with the results.