You know what’s fun? Coming up with (what you hope is) a great idea.
You know what’s a lot less fun? Actually doing something with that idea.
Or as I like to say … putting that idea into words.
Because as wonderful as it would be to think up an idea, snap your fingers, and marvel instantly at the finished product, that’s not how creativity works. That’s how some people see it from the outside. But on the inside, there’s a lot of work that lies between inspiration and completion.
That’s the part that separates dreamers from achievers.
Willingness, ability, desire, to actually do the work. Not just think or talk about it. But DO it.
So you’re sitting there, minding your own business, and BOOM. New idea. Wow, it’s a good one too. Your mind starts wandering off into that faraway place all our minds wander off to when a new story or theme starts to unfold. You never want to come back.
Imagination is effortless. Inspiration is euphoric.
It does not last.
At some point, reality strikes. You approach a crossroads. You can either continue to let yourself imagine all the wonderful things you’re going to do with the idea in your head … or you can DO something with it.
Of course … doing something would require … you know. Effort.
Many people aren’t willing or able to put effort behind their inspiration. That’s not commentary on anyone’s character. It’s simply the way creativity works. Coming up with ideas isn’t what makes you a successful creative. Only hard work can do that.
I’m guilty of idea hoarding. It’s part of that procrastination problem personal development experts like to remind us about for some reason. I love coming up with ideas. I also love committing to things. It’s inspirational. It makes me feel alive. Then I open my eyes on a Monday morning and I realize, oh. A resume/CV doesn’t mean anything unless the work actually gets done. Right.
(I’m not lazy. I just get tired. I’m only human.)
Why don’t we want to do the work? Is work ever not exhausting and draining? I think even those of us who thrive on the thrill of being busy struggle to keep up the more projects we decide to juggle. You can have a blast writing all day, but when that day ends, your brain still feels like melted butter. Fun is just as tiring as doing stuff you don’t want to do.
What takes us from idea to finished product? Not anything fancy, unfortunately, so if you were hoping for some magic potion to cure your not-wanting-to-adult-ness, sorry. It’s a lot of words you don’t want to hear. Discipline. Resilience. Sitting your butt down in a chair and keeping your butt in said chair until you’ve actually accomplished something.
Aspiring writers who don’t like to write can learn to write anyway.
Writers actively pursuing their professional careers can work more efficiently and effectively, even when they don’t wanna.
It’s all a learning process. For everyone. But what works for one person probably won’t work for everyone. You have to figure out how you work. You have to figure out what’s going to first get your butt into a chair, then how to start actually Doing Something, then how to keep yourself in that spot. I cannot physically show up at all of your doorsteps and scream at you until you write something. I CAN TYPE IN ALL CAPS AND HOPE THAT GETS YOUR ATTENTION BUT I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER WHETHER OR NOT YOU ACTUALLY WRITE. That’s all on you.
Doing work is hard work.
It’s not always fun.
Sometimes you do a bunch of work and it doesn’t pay off.
Sometimes it does.
But you’ll never know unless you Do.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.