Express An Idea Before You Choose A Medium

20 Nov

Would be a quote from me if I were addressing a bunch of young artistic types in an auditorium somewhere… But really, that is how I feel.  That is what I keep telling myself.  I don’t want to limit myself of confuse things by choosing a medium.

I started NaNoWriMo basically thinking “I am going to write a book.”  The minute I started writing, what came out was exactly not a story or a fiction or a book.  And every day thereafter was the same.  I’d sit down to write and I wrote, but none of it was book material.   I stopped halfway through, happy to know that the ideas I was writing would be used someday, but not for a book.  I then decided to change focus to something else.


We often cling on to individual mediums, as if that is what we were meant to do.  Just choose a format and ideas will come.  That to me is the old mentality of the specialist.

That’s fine, but mastery is like a phantom with no voice.  I don’t know what it looks or sounds like, and I don’t care.

How many times have I thought “I’m gonna _______ a _______” (Insert the proper verb matching the proper medium, like make and film.

No I’m not.  The reality is:

I’m not gonna make a film so much as I’m gonna express an idea.


The idea is king.

It shouldn’t really matter what the medium is for now, know what I mean?

It’s not about mastery and not about medium -it’s about getting the idea out there in it’s best form, in it’s fanciest outfit.  Getting that damn idea out as purely and potently as possible.

I think limiting yourself to a medium is exactly that: limiting.  And not in a “boundaries / rules are good for creativity” way.  I think in the idea stage, you should be open to any and all manifestations of the idea.  Just try it.

Write it down, sure, but before you get all NaNoWriMo on it, record yourself talking about it.  If it’s a story, act out some lines.  Pretend it’s a radio play or a movie.  Search the internet for photos that would be scenes in your movie.  Or make drawings of them, as if it were a graphic novel.

All this may seem like a waste of time, right?  That’s kind of my point.

We write things off as ‘a waste of time’ when really other reasons are working in the background.  Things like “I don’t know how to do that” or “I can’t see myself doing that” or “It sounds too difficult…”  Thus we refuse ourselves the chance to put some time into learning a new medium

I’m trying to get you to indulge in the pleasure of wasting time, by putting this idea into it’s various forms.

What feels best?  You may have a knack for radio plays that you never thought you had.  Weirder things have happened.  Your visual sense of this idea or story might be better than how you describe it in words.  You may find yourself delving into animation tutorials for the next three weeks, and learn a bunch of skills!  You may be happy to discover something new.


So please, go ahead and waste some time trying out your idea in a few different amalgamations, let me know, did you find the best expression of it?

Have you already tried this?

If so, how did it turn out?

Let me know in the comments!

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2 Responses to “Express An Idea Before You Choose A Medium”

  1. Emilie December 22, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    I love this post! The medium/message distinction is something I’ve thought about a lot and something I write about occasionally. We too often confuse the way we express our ideas with the ideas themselves.

    The idea of love for example can be expressed through the written word, a painting, a song, a business (like for example), or a number of other media.

    In our culture we’re encouraged to identify AS the medium. It’s problematic particularly for multipotentialites who morph between formats.

    I would actually love to re-publish this piece on Puttylike sometime. What do ya say?

  2. Joshua Lundquist December 23, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Emilie – thanks for the intriguing comment!

    “In our culture we’re encouraged to identify AS the medium.”

    Yeah, the medium also oftentimes ends up dictating a person’s choice of profession, even!

    In some case it works out fine, but for us multipods, it’s temporary and then we’re done! Somewhere along the line, our interest fades, and the medium turns into a trap, trapping us in a role we’re sick of. And we miss out on so much when we only do one thing!

    It’s so true. And with musicians, it’s worse. You’re forced to play the role / embody the image of the GENRE you choose! Y’know what I mean?

    You played music, wasn’t there a point where it’s like “O.K. so what do we do about our image?”

    And so often, the trends of the time dictate the image of every genre. It’s stifling.

    I’m experimenting with putting up sort of jokey songs on my soundcloud page recently, seeing what I can get away with, mixing comedy with dance music… So far so good, I’m getting good responses.

    And DJ’s aren’t always equipped with a sense of humor (just read any retweet on @DJscomplaining).

    And I’d say yes, please re-publish this on Puttylike sometime, I would be honored!

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