“Brain Crack” Will Keep You From Being Creative

This week, I was at VidCon. The whole conference rearranged my mind, as it does every year — it’s a celebration of all the ways YouTube is changing creativity.

But one thing that really stuck with me was Ze Frank’s short talk about “brain crack,” the addictive habit of keeping “good ideas” in your head rather then executing them. It’s a call-back to one of his old videos. Here’s how he elaborates:

If you don’t want to run out of ideas the best thing to do is not to execute them…

…the bummer is most ideas kind of suck when you do them. And no matter how much you plan you still have to do something for the first time. And you are almost guaranteed the first time you do something it will blow. But somebody who does something bad three times still has three times the experience of that other person who is still dreaming of [actually doing it]. When I get an idea, even a bad one, I try to get it out into the world as fast as possible, because I certainly don’t want to be addicted to brain crack.

To me, brain crack is much more than a fear of “running out of ideas” and therefore, saving them[*]. It’s much more of what Ze hits in that last part — a fear of doing it wrong. A fear of screwing up. Not just the fear of “Oh God, I have to do this right or they won’t see it for the great idea it is.” It’s more the perfectionist fear of, “Oh God, I have to do this right or they won’t see me for the great person I am.”

And the worst part is that the fear of embarrassment or of just learning from mistakes keeps you from actually being creative — not just being creative in your head — but it keeps you from creating, which is the whole point.

If you’re looking for more, here’s Ze Frank’s video.

[*]“Running out of ideas” is more like a level-two problem, once you’ve escaped from a little bit of that brain crack. Once you’re executing a lot of projects, you start to feel like THIS ONE might be your last. (It’s not.)