by Molly Idle

brain is full

It has been said that an infinite well of creativity springs within each and every one of us.

Well, I wasted a lot of time trying to draw inspiration from mine with a bucket that was already full. At least, that’s what I came to realize after years of worrying that my well had run dry.

Before I came to that realization however, this is the conversation I had with myself every time I was working on a book…

Me 1: I like the way this idea is shaping up. It’s all good right?

Me 2: Are you kidding me? Sure, this idea is ok, but what if I can’t think of an idea for the next book? Or the one after that? What if I’ve used up all my good ideas?!

Me 1: Um…I don’t have an answer to that.

Me 2: See! I’m out of answers just like I’m out of ideas!

Me 1: Oh. No.

*head/desk in a schlump of despair*

Thus I spent my time working on every project thinking that it would be my last.

Then, one day, as I boxed up a finished book, sent it off, and thought… “Well, that’s it then, I’m finished, this is the end…”


A new idea sprang up in my mind.

And this mental conversation ensued…

Me 1: I have a great new idea!

Me 2: Wow, that’s lucky! I thought we were all out of new ideas…

Oprah: Luck is the moment when preparation meets opportunity. 

Me1: Oprah, how did you get in here?

Oprah: (smiles mysteriously, then vanishes in a mist of chai tea)

Me 2: Okaaayyy…

When I finished up the next project it happened again (sans Oprah and chai). Another new idea came to me within days!

Mental conversation…

Me 1: Coincidence?

Me 2 : I think not.

Me 1: Alrirght then, prove it…

Me 2: Alright then, I will!

So, I started consciously keeping track of how and when I came up with new ideas, and what I discovered was this… It wasn’t luck. That is to say, it wasn’t random.

I discovered that my brain seemed to have a finite number of ideas it could hold as I worked on them. When my brain was full, I could try to pull up ideas from the wellspring of creativity all I wanted, and not be able to draw up so much a drop of inspiration. But, through preparing one idea, drawing it out—I simultaneously created the space, or opportunity, to draw up another.

So, Oprah, with her mysterious mental chai mist, was right! “Luck is the moment when preparation meets opportunity.”

Ergo, Luck = Work

Now, that’s not to say that every idea I draw up gets poured out into a picture book.

Sheesh, no!

Some ideas are forgotten (just like that two day old cuppa chai tea left sitting on my desk).

Some ideas get poured straight down the drain.

Some ideas may simmer for a bit, then get poured down the drain, only to be replaced by another idea that may not work out either, and another… and another!

But, as long as I keep working, sometimes, sometimes, I get lucky. Sometimes, I draw up an idea from the well, and it pours it out, through pencil and paper, into a picture book.


mollyidle_headshot web

Molly Idle has been drawing ever since she could wield a pencil. But while she started scribbling before she could walk, her professional career as an artist began slightly later…

It was upon her graduation from Arizona State University, with a BFA in Drawing, that Molly accepted an offer to work for DreamWorks Feature Animation Studios.  After five years, a number of film credits, and an incredibly good time, she left the studio and leapt with gusto into the world of children’s book illustration!

Molly now lives in Arizona with her brilliant husband, two wonderfully mischievous sons, and two snugly cats. When not making mischief with her boys or watching old Technicolor musicals, she can be found at her desk scribbling away, with a pencil in one hand and a cup of espresso in the other- creating a plethora of profoundly whimsical picture books!
Twitter: @mollyidle
Facebook: Idle Illustration
Instagram: @mollyidle


Molly is giving away a signed FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO poster!


This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!