The Idea is Just The Beginning
This is NOT another article about what to do when you're staring at a blank screen, blinking cursor callously indifferent to the cobwebs currently occupying your previously crammed headspace. If you want my best advice on what to do about lost inspiration read this article I wrote over on Medium.
This is also NOT another list post with dozens of topics you can write about on your blog RIGHT NOW!! No guarantees to go viral or be picked up by The New York Times even though it could happen, you know.
This is about what to do if you've got the opposite problem. What if you've got so many ideas all looking equally enticing & juicy & you want to run in 617 different directions chasing every one.
Except you know what happens when you do that? Nothing gets completed. You lose track of/ enthusiasm for every one of those 617 ideas that you foolishly tried to chase in the first place.
You see sometimes as creatives and as entrepreneurs we seem to be bombarded with AMAZING-SHINY-NEVER-BEFORE-CONCEIVED-OF-BRILLIANT-IDEAS all at once! And they all seem beautiful and ethereal and dazzling. Like walking through a butterfly garden where beautiful bursts of colour each representing a different exotic idea seem to flit amongst the trees and dance across your path. It's enchanting, magical and down right seductive.
you hardly know which beautiful and brilliant idea you should chase first.
It's easy to get stuck in the garden. Not just because it's fucking brilliant in here. In the idea generating phase. But because there's fear lurking in the shadows too. After all, the rest of the planet might not see these ideas the same way you do. There's always the risk, especially in the online business world that your beautiful idea, even once you've worked so hard to bring it into the world - will simply get lost in the noise. It happens.
And then there's the fact that ideas always have a way of seeming more attractive when you first meet them. Perhaps the idea has suffered rejection before (from other creators) and is wise enough now to know that in the beginning it needs to look its best.
When creator and idea first meet it's a lot like going on a date. Each making themselves appear attractive in hopes the other will want to work together. Once you decide to work together it's another story altogether. More like waking up the morning after when the heady enthusiasm and glamour of the original meeting has worn off. When your smokey eye has been mashed into raccoon eyes by the pillow.
When self-doubt & second thoughts creep in.
When the daunting task stretches out before you. Perhaps it will only take a few days but perhaps, if you're writing a book or starting a business it could stretch into weeks, months...or even years. Perhaps this is the idea you will dedicate your life to - no pressure.
Here's what I know...
There will be mornings you wake up and wonder if you've chosen the right idea. The shine has worn off and you'll want to abandon this idea & escape to the wonder of the butterfly garden.
There will be mornings when self-doubt becomes louder than self-confidence. And you waver, wondering if you're good enough, smart enough, talented enough. Enough in whatever way you most often feel deficient. You are enough. But fear knows which buttons to push.
And fear doesn't Fight fair.
I also know it's important to see the thing through. Even when it gets tough and unglamorous. To make good on the deal you struck with inspiration. To birth the idea the best way you know how.
Why is it important to keep going even when it doesn't feel effortless and your work doesn't gracefully flow from your synapses?
Because if you don't you'll end up surrounded by a number of half-completed projects. Perhaps they're brilliant but no one will ever know. And every time you run into your old friend self-doubt he'll be able to point to all the soulless shells of abandoned work strewn about your studio or your hard-drive and say, "See, I knew you weren't good enough. I knew you couldn't do it. And the proof is everywhere you look."
Don't give him that chance.
Don't fuel the fires of your own fears by not following through with your work when the shine of the idea dulls and the days drag on.
Instead, be a faithful and trustworthy partner to the inspiration that has so graciously gifted you with ideas and make them a reality. Have faith enough to share them even when it makes you feel vulnerable. Vulnerable like every shit-I-showed-up-to-work-naked-nightmare you've ever had replayed into one never-ending mash-up reel kind of vulnerable. Put your work out there especially when it makes you feel vulnerable. It probably means you're doing something right. At the very least I promise you will not be swallowed by a giant black hole, even if that's how it feels. Have faith.
Get better at recognising which ideas you truly want to partner with and invest your time in.
Recognise self-doubt for what it is: simply part of the creative process. Consider it a sign you're making progress. Greet it and move past it.