Creating something, and especially trying to create many things, isn’t a 100% proposition. It’s not as if everything you work on will fit in your final creative product. Also, not every effort you start will be completed. Along the way, you’re going to generate quite a bit of creative residue or leftovers – false starts, near misses, and big creative swings where you fall short of the big results you’d expected.

If you’re going to create, you’re going to create creative residue along the way.

In the midst of creating, you need to be comfortable with leaving creative residue behind. But that’s not to say you might not be able to take advantage of these leftovers later. Attempting to get value out of creative residue is the reason we have:

  • Director’s cut DVDs
  • Extra songs on compilation records
  • Sequels to popular works of art
  • Posthumous creative output, including books, music, films, etc.

If you’re up for it, keeping creative residue around can pay off down the line.

Barrett and I had done the strategic thinking ten years ago for a plan on how you could donate time to a Kansas City civic cause for a huge brainstorming session event. We’d gone pretty far down the path of thinking through the strategy on who you’d invite, how large the brainstorming session would be, how to get people in Kansas City to participate, and the media impact it could have.

Unfortunately, the specific civic effort we were working on never got off the ground, and our strategic thinking appeared to have been for naught.

But when Kansas City officials voiced the challenge to come up with ideas for how Google Fiber could be used for economic development and changing lives after its introduction, the first thing that ran through my mind was the strategic thinking we’d done and how it could be applied to this new opportunity for a huge brainstorming session. From our decade old thinking, the Building the Gigabit City partnership to brainstorm Google Fiber with Social Media Club of Kansas City was born.

If I hadn’t kept our civic meeting creative residue around, I wouldn’t have been so fast to jump on the huge Google Fiber Gigabit City brainstorming session opportunity.

Creative residue shoots and scores!

So keep as much of yours around as you can stand. If you’re already doing that, how are you keeping it fresh and usable for when you need it? - Mike Brown


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