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You Have an Idea, Now What?

Coming up with an idea you’d like to pursue feels like its own reward - after much struggle and inner turmoil, you’ve finally got it! (Struggle and inner turmoil optional, btw.)

After a few minute though, you realize that this is only the beginning. You don’t even know where the starting line is yet - it’s more like you overheard about a marathon in a crowded coffee shop, and are going to give it a try. Someday.

So where do you begin? An idea is at best a vague beginning, and you don’t know what it’s going to look like at the finish line. The amount of effort required can be off-putting, especially when literally anything else look easier, like the dishes. Or even the laundry.

You’re going to have to make some groundwork-level decisions, before you’re even ready to set a goal and a plan. A lot of times, we’re eager to jump to the plan, when we don’t even have a firm grip on what exactly we’re trying to plan. Whoops.

Select a Format

You have this great idea, but you may or may not know exactly how you’re going to create it. Is it a novel, short story, or screenplay? Is it a digital image or physical one, on paper, on canvas, or on an object? Is it an ebook, physical book, audiobook, or video post?

Select a Medium

Once you have the format, it’s time to select your materials. Are you going to paint with acrylics, watercolors, or oils? Are you going to write longhand, on your computer, or in the cloud? Are you going to sing live, on video, or on audio? Are you going to need additional tools to make the process easier, such as sketching in pencil first before painting?

Select a Support Network

No one is an island, and nearly every creative endeavor is going to require support along the way. Do you plan on showing rough drafts to a mentor or coach? Are you going to enlist the help of a beta audience to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses? Do you want to run everything by an editor or assistant before it goes live? Will you need your friends and family to support you, in either direct or indirect ways?

Select a Commitment

To make room for this new project, you’ll need to clear out some space on your current calendar. Will you have to drop or rearrange some commitments to find the time you need? Are you willing to go slowly for now, until something else is finished, so you can increase your time spent on it later? Can you delegate certain tasks for now, until the project is done, and then pick them back up?

Once you have these in place, it will be far easier to envision the completed project, and how you are likely to get there. That makes goal setting and planning much more realistic - after all, if you don’t know what you actually intend to do, you have no idea if your plan is even doable.

Have you ran across projects where “Ready, Fire, Aim” didn’t work out for you? How did you overcome it? I’d love to hear from you!

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