I don’t have to describe to you how it feels to encounter a brand-new idea. You already know.
It’s sort of, weirdly, like falling in love. It feels … pretty amazing, right?
Isn’t it strange, how with every new idea, you find yourself wondering, “Is this the spark that’s going to change my life forever?”
You can’t help it. You think, “This is it. This is the thing I’m going to finish. And other people are going to read it. And it’s going to be worth all the work I’m about to pour into this thing.”
Of course, those thoughts and feelings — that excitement; that wonder — don’t last. It’s just the reality of creativity. Ideas come and go. Some of them turn into great things. Others, eventually, fade away.
Time will do that to you. Make you forget why you ever bothered to start creating Project XZY in the first place.
Your novel idea loses its novelty. It’s not fun anymore. You know writing takes work … but it feels a lot more like work than it did when you started.
As creatives, we’re wired to explore; make discoveries; try new things. That’s why it’s so hard to resist that urge to grab every new idea that comes along and see what we can get out of it — even though we might already have three or four other half-finished projects slowly dying at our feet.
It’s not that we don’t care about those projects. They’re just … not as shiny as they used to be.
That doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye.
Is it OK to abandon some projects, if you truly feel your time would be better spent working on something else instead? Of course.
But remember: not every new idea has to become a new project instantaneously. You can put it out of your mind for a little while — let it breathe — while you tend to your other creative responsibilities for the time being.
And if you’re truly invested in that idea, when you return to it, you’ll do so with the same enthusiasm and dedication you felt when you encountered it for the first time.
Along the way, if you start to lose interest, do your best to reflect on why you said yes to it in the first place. What about it caught your eye? Are you considering giving up because you’re tired and don’t want to put in the effort anymore? Because something seemingly better has come along?
Maybe it’s because you’re afraid of how it makes you feel — remembering that when you stumbled upon it for the first time, you were sure it was the thing that was finally going to bring you the success you’d always dreamed of … because your whole heart was there.
That’s how much you cared then. And with a little work, yes. You can care that much again.
Ideas are fragile. Sometimes, when we break them apart, we just can’t quite figure out how to put them back together again. Not the right way. Not the way they’re meant to be.
But sometimes … they become something greater than we ever could have imagined.
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 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.