Killing our darlings

A curse of the creative mind is the abundance of ideas that spring up. To some extent we love them all, for they are ours.
 The common advice against drowning, becoming paralyzed, or spreading ourselves so thin we create nothing worthy of any of the ideas is to kill our darlings, or kill our babies. It is a ruthless and gruesome image, but one that resonates with the feeling if betrayal or even violence that creative people have when forced to abandon a raft of delicious possibilities in order to do justice to one or a few.
 Resonant or not, the image can be counterproductive. Who are we to kill our darlings?! So we don’t.
 While nearly everyone in the northern hemisphere seems to be longing for an end to this long winter, consider this image as an alternative to slaughtering the children of our creative activity:
 Just thin the seedlings so a few strong ones may grow. Cull the volunteers in the garden so the specimens that are truly beautiful, productive, desirable can flourish. Prune the branches deliberately, even aggressively, so the tree can lose the tendency to scraggly and grow to majesty.
 Gardening is a creative pursuit, a cultivation of the new, productive and desirable just as your own creative work is a work of cultivation. Gardeners and powerful creatives resist the temptation to let every shoot have a chance to do something. Instead we give the greatest chance possible to the creation we choose to pour our resources into.
 We get to choose. Weaker, scraggly, confusing with unproductive density. Or strong, healthy, luxurious, a gift to the world.
 Thinning, pruning, choosing become, with experience, more than necessary evils. They become practices of love and guidance for our truly creative work.

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