But first, let’s address this harsh truth:
Your idea is probably not as good as you think.
This is not an insult to your intelligence. It is an observation of the creatives’ mindset.
We adore our ideas. We care for them. We dwell on them. We obsess over them. We know this one idea will change our life forever.
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The longer you ruminate on your idea, the more ignorant you become to your naiveté. An idea in the real world looks infinitely less sexy than it does in your perfect brain.
My friend once told me of the novel he wanted to write:
“I don’t want to corrupt the purity of this story by rushing it out.”
Sounds reasonable, right? Except he told me that five years ago. He still has not written Chapter One.
I hate when Internet people say “just start!” We both know it isn’t that simple.
Over the last two years, I’ve published over 500 posts on various platforms. Some of them are terrible. Some of them are great.
All of them started as ideas at one point.
Here are some strategies which continue to help me:
A) Ruin everything immediately
The human ego seems to believe whatever comes out of our mind should be instantly perfect.
Artists, in particular, have this problem — we are trying to sort through vague ideas. There is no blueprint, no map. You have a half-finished cup of coffee and a whim.
I love what Ira Glass says:
“Your taste is why your work disappoints you.”
It takes a while to get to the point where you will be even a little satisfied with your work. Even then, there are iterations — you will spend untold hours doing and re-doing and idea, wanting it to be “just right.”
P.s. — It will never be “just right”
B) Dead to me
People sometimes say:
“I love what you wrote about self-confidence in that post!”
I often say:
“Thanks… what did I say?”
Idea people have a strange paradox. When an idea is new, it’s all we think about. After the idea reaches reality, it is dead to us.
Pour your heart and soul and blood and guts into your idea.
Then, let it die and move on.
Your ideas are worth implementing.
I’m telling you that just in case nobody else does.
I’m telling you that because current culture often makes us feel insignificant.
I’m telling you that so you can write it down, stick it on your mirror, and read it when you don’t feel like moving forward.
I’m telling you that because it’s true.
D) The breakdown
Every November, around half a million people queue up for what can only be described as an artistic trial by fire.
NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — is a program in which you write a complete novel in 30 days.
Here’s why it works:
The very goal “I want to write a novel” is arbitrary. Novels come in all shapes and sizes — how long should yours be? What genre should it be? How much time do you have to spend working on it?
The program has grown exponentially largely because of a clear goal and clear subgoals.
The Goal: 50,000 words — a concrete, measurable finish line.
The Subgoals: 1,667 words per day — if you hit this mark every day, you’re ahead. If you miss it, you’re behind.
When you break your idea down so far the first step is too easy, you win.
(Also, a while back Jon Westenberg posted this picture. I found it very helpful.)
This article originally appeared on Medium.
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