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I love hearing about the creative processes behind famous works of art. And in any creative process there are obviously first, second, third (maybe even thirtieth) versions potentially bearing little resemblance to the final product. Yet these versions reflect the trials, learnings, and flashes of inspiration necessary to advance the creative process.

If you don’t mind me asking, what do you do with the early versions of your creative efforts?

I know people who, for any number of reasons, immediately discard early creative incarnations. Others hang on to them for nostalgia or the possibility of later re-mining them for pieces, parts, or perhaps new inspiration.

Probably not surprisingly, I’m in the latter group. To me, you never know when an image, video clip, or written passage could take on new life or provide needed inspiration in a different situation.

Want an example?

For months, I’ve had a half-completed draft of a piece similar to yesterday’s post on not naming things too soon. It was centered on the Flip Mino name, talking about how nobody knew what a Mino was, so the name provided a tremendous amount of flexibility for what Flip wanted the product to become. I never finished the post, but it’s stayed in my online file of blogging scraps. Keeping it top of mind allowed it to be combined with The Beatles piece and become a more compelling treatment of a similar idea.

Here’s my advice: maintain an inspiration file full of unfinished work and exploit it for scraps you can mash up into something distinctive and cool at the appointed time. Mike Brown


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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2 Responses to “Do You Recycle?”

  1. sparkica says:

    I keep sketches, napkins with bits of wisdom-to-be, old notebooks, drafts in WordPress. As you said: you newer know 😀

  2. Mike Brown says:

    We're definitely of a similar mindset Sparkica. Anything I can write on is likely to wind up in a file folder, 3 ring binder, or stack of papers waiting to have something more done with it!