Happy Monday! This marks the beginning of our second theme of 2019. You have built up the strength to finally get started on your creative endeavor, but now what? It is time to pick your project! You can’t do that without a little brainstorming and research.
The theme for the next two weeks will be: Harnessing Your Ideas
When it comes to starting a new project, it can be difficult to choose exactly what you want to do. It can also be hard to define the parameters and scope of the project. This often leads to a lack of commitment, or a rough start to the project.
Today I wanted to discuss a few points regarding brainstorming and choosing an idea for a project.
Recognizing New Ideas
New Ideas can east to recognize, but they are not always the most convenient. They are usually sparked when we see something awesome, or make a connection between two odd concepts.
For example, I was recently joking around with my wife about how “You are not a serial killer, are you?” is a common question in online dating. The conversation spiraled into hilarity as we began talking about a person who openly admits to being a serial killer on dating sites. That idea could be made into a silly comic book or animation.
Keep an eye out for new ideas in your conversations. People will often say things like “wouldn’t it be cool if” or “or what about this”. These are ideas. Think about how many times this comes up in a given week. We should never have a shortage of fun ideas.
While every idea may not be actionable at the time, it may come in handy for the future. However, ideas don’t always pop up at convenient times. They often strike in conversations with others, or in the shower, or at bed time. You may not be able to catch them all, but you should at least try. This leads to my next point.
Write Down Everything
Keep paper or a notebook with you at all times! You never know when a good idea will show its face. What are the chances you will remember the exact details of the idea in the future? I know that my memory is not that good. Wait, what were we talking about again?
In my house I have stacks and stacks of papers, notebooks, bits of cardboard, and sticky notes. Some of these notes date back over ten years! I have always been an avid collector of ideas, even though I have not always been the most prolific creator. In case you don’t remember, I had a hard time getting started as well.
You may not use every idea that you write down, but having them written is better than losing them entirely or missing a major detail. There is no worse feeling than wanting to revisit a lost concept or idea. Sometimes the furthest it will come back will be the tip of your tongue.
Not all ideas are naturally-occurring. Many great ideas are born out of creative thinking, planning, and brainstorming. Setting aside some time to analyze your ideas can be a great help to your overall creative process. This is where our previous step of maintaining an idea list comes in handy.
Sometimes an idea is not good enough on its own. It may need an enhancement to reach its full potential. By combining ideas on our list, we can come up with more complex and interesting concepts.
For example, you may want to make a superhero comic. While this is a fun concept, there isn’t anything super special about it. You look at your idea list and there is an idea for a comic strip series about talking food. Combining these ideas into a comic about food-based super heroes may better suit your needs.
Sometimes many creative ideas can be grouped together. Websites often discuss many similar topics. Fictional stories often contain multiple themes and motifs. A group of your ideas may turn into a great piece of work.
In fact, this is how Effective Nerd came to be. I have always wanted to run a self-improvement website. At the same time, I have always had a love for independent media. By combining these two ideas, I created a self-improvement website for those in independent media.
Pick Actionable Ideas
Not every idea is doable. I would love to make a fifty foot tall art installation of a solid gold Mr. Mime. I can afford the gold, but the licensing from Nintendo would leave me bankrupt.
Jokes aside, having awareness of our limitations goes a long way when choosing ideas for projects. We all have varying degrees and types of constraints in our life. We don’t want to be choosing projects that we know will fail or create intense hardship in our life.
Our projects do not need to be 100% planned out from the get-go, but a little foresight can help us narrow down our ideas. You want to pick ideas that you love but also have obtainable goals. Before choosing an idea, think about how the idea will fit into your current lifestyle.
Your Choice Is Not For Forever
Commitment in any form is difficult, especially when the task pushes the limits of your skills. There are comic book series that have spanned multiple creator’s lifetimes. Some podcasts have lasted longer than the host’s marriage.
Committing to creative ideas can feel extremely daunting and overwhelming. This can cause you to freeze up and quit before ever starting. These feelings may act as an excellent sniff test to see if you are truly passionate about the idea. However, it also offers you an excuse to never get the ball rolling.
Luckily, you do not need to pick one idea and commit to it for the rest of your life. A lot of people will tell you that you need to pick a single craft and do it forever. However, this argument makes the assumption that both you and the world are static. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I ran with any of the ideas I had when I was thirteen. I am sure that many VHS collectors have moved on to bigger and better things.
When choosing ideas, it is important to assess the potential longevity of the project. Is this something you think you can do for a long time? At the same time, feel free to experiment and try new things. You will eventually find an idea that sparks your passion and dedication.
Don’t Tell Others Right Away
I have a friend who is always coming up with ideas. They love to brag about all the great things they are going to accomplish, but they never follow through or commit to any of the projects. They want the attention of having these great accomplishments without having to put the work in.
We all do this from time to time. It feels a lot better to speak in terms of our best selves. However, this can be detrimental to not only your own creative process, but how others view your work ethic.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but keep your ideas to yourself for a while. I know it can be exciting to share your ideas and plans with other people. However, this can cause you to not follow through with the idea.
Wait until you have some concrete work to start showing off your ideas. It does not have to be fully completed as getting feedback and proofs are also important. You just want to make sure that the praise you receive is based on your execution of your ideas, and not thoughtless planning.
Be A Doer And Not A Dreamer
If there is one thing to be learned about creativity and productivity, it is that actions speak louder than words. We can brainstorm, plan and organize all day. However, none of this matters if we do not take action.
Do you remember that person that came up with an idea while sitting on the couch and was instantly a successful creator? Me either. None of this comes without hard work and dedication.
Our big lofty ideas of crafting our life’s masterpiece are fun to think about. The hard part is turning them into a reality. This can only be achieved if you pick your best ideas and put yourself out there.
Pick A Great Idea And Bring It To Life!
What are your favorite methods for harnessing the power of your ideas?
Do you keep endless list of ideas like I do?
Are you the type of person that brags about their plans but has a hard time following through?
As always, this post will be followed up with a discussion post on Wednesday. Make sure you give me you feed back over the next few days. I can be reached on social media, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.