Be OK with Not Knowing

be ok with not knowing - silhouette

Recently I spent a day in meetings about a new, rather large project. I’m due to start work on it later in the year. I was in a slightly uncomfortable, yet not unexpected, position of not knowing quite how I was going to attack the project. It was understandable though – being, as it was, technically my first day.

Immersing in New Information

To me, this is an opportunity to swim about in an awful lot of new information, and on this occasion I was also meeting an awful lot of new people (it’s no secret that my introvert brain was fried by the end of the day). A day of cross-pollinating multiple ideas and themes, of ‘feeling’ out the landscape and structure of the piece without pinning down the exactitudes. Not just yet, anyway.

Allowing Time to Let The Ideas Brew

It is an unnecessary stress (for me) and contrary to my (and many others’) creative process to come up with definite ideas and processes in such an environment. With repeated encounters, we learn to expect the Not-Knowing. The subconscious (mine, anyway, yours might be quicker!) needs a reasonable amount of incubation time after such collaborative events to mull and make lateral connections before coming up with anything that could remotely be considered quality, ‘creative’ ideas. I’ve learned to trust that process… but forget sometimes that it fucking terrifies some people, namely some of my more practical co-workers – often those who deal with budgets and schedules, whose ability to simply do their jobs requires that information from the get-go.

I apologise to those people profusely. But this mindset has worked wonders in the past so it’ll work again in future. Trust me.

Not-Knowing Is Essential

The ‘Not-Knowing’ time. The potential, the blank space, the white page. If you let yourself, you can fall in love with it, but not without first abandoning that need to cling on for dear life to our tried-and-tested methods. You don’t need to be a control freak. It’s just getting in your way.

It is ok to not know.

It is OK not to know.

Sleep on it, and trust that the answers will come when you’re least expecting (though usually when stood in the shower).

Photo: Ashley Norquist