How Good Ideas Stick

How do you know an idea is good enough to keep?

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Once you have an idea, how do you know it won’t disappear?

That’s a writer’s biggest fear, isn’t it — that if we don’t write things down the instant they come to us, they’ll be gone forever?

That’s not how it works. Not with all ideas, anyway.

Some of them vanish because they’re just not worth going after, for a number of reasons.

And some, once they appear, are here to stay.

If you have a good idea, you also must have (or have the ability to work toward figuring out) the answers to these questions: Why, how, and when.

Why do you care about this idea? Why does it matter — to you and to your idea’s audience? Why is it going to be worth the time and resources you are going to have to spend to bring it to life?

How are you going to bring this idea to life? What are the steps you are going to need to take in order to make it all work out?

Possibly the most important: when are you going to get started? When are you going to put together a plan? When are you going to “launch” your new idea?

Without a reason for pursuing it, a plan in place to execute it, and a deadline to motivate its development, an idea will always remain a thought, and never become something you can hold in your hand.

And even after all this, there’s still one more element to the formula.

Do you really want to do it?

Is it something that excites you, something you can’t wait to wake up tomorrow morning to work on — something you would give up everything else for, just for the chance to let it become something real?

Or is it just something you think sounds cool, something you’re convinced will get you recognized … something you could live without?

Because it’s possible to have a good idea that isn’t meant for you.

It’s a scary thought, but it’s true.

(That’s why some of us talk openly about ideas we don’t plan on pursuing ourselves … but keep everything else to ourselves…)

In all seriousness, an idea that sticks with you is an idea you’re willing to stick with yourself. Ideas are like relationships. They take serious commitment for the long-term. They’re not always easy to work with. Aaaaand that’s as far as I’m going to take that simile.

If you aren’t willing to stick with it, if it’s not important enough to you, you’ll let it go without even realizing you’ve done it. That’s why sometimes you can go months without working on a project and still play around with the idea in your head the whole time. Because it means the world to you.

If an idea is worth pursuing, trust me. You’ll know it.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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