What If I Run Out of Ideas?


One of my biggest fears as a creative storyteller is that I’ll run out of ideas. If I'm really honest, I grapple with this fear on a daily basis. One day, according to this fear, I’ll reach the awkward moment where the well runs dry and I have nothing left to offer. All the ideas will have expired. There will be no more.

No amount of evidence to the contrary seems to convince this fear to go away. Rationality doesn’t stack up to fear very well anyway. And I’ve found this to be something most of us struggle with in the area of creative ministry and storytelling. It’s an internal battle, and it mostly has to do with scarcity, the idea that things will inevitably run out at some point.

Recent scientific research has suggested that we regularly underestimate our own creative potential. Psychologists have found that people who hit a creative block and get easily discouraged tend to give up quickly. But people who hit a block and keep tinkering with ideas are much more likely to push through and arrive at a creative solution. The people who keep tinkering aren't necessarily more intelligent. They just keep at it until something starts to work.

What happens when you hit a block? How do you handle it?

Do you avoid your project and procrastinate for a while? Do you watch other people's work and get inspired (or depressed)? Or do you walk it off and try to get a new idea? We all have our own coping mechanisms for those moments, but there's an underlying fear beneath it. The fear says, I don't have enough. I'm not enough.

It takes a certain amount of faith to do creative work, to put yourself and your ideas out there. But the fear of running out of ideas lies in a mindset of scarcity. It reminds me of Jesus' first miracle of turning water in the wine. The underlying fear was that there wasn't enough wine. What if we run out? Shame awaits. Disaster.

This miracle was a demonstration of abundance. Jesus saves the party and protects the honor of the host. But He does more than that. He makes the point that God can provide. He loves to provide. He always provides.

We live in the world of supply and demand. And as soon as someone discovers that you can edit a video or animate graphics or tell a story – you're in demand. So what about your supply? Who can you depend on for inspiration and ideas? Who's still faithful when you've got a deadline and you've exhausted your creativity?

God is enough. He has enough. And you can trust Him to give you what you need. This is where our faith needs to be rooted as we do our creative work - not in ourselves, not in our skillset or ideas, but in a God who provides.

He is the Well that never runs dry.