Your Idea Is Not An Accomplishment

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I have a habit of writing things down. Lots of things. everything, actually.

Part of the reason is that I’m scatterbrained. I’m bombarded by a constant internal cacophony of ideas and thoughts that have nothing to do with one another—songs, jokes, movies I want to see, blog post topics, etc. They tend to happen at inopportune times, like when I’m having a conversation with a friend or while I’m driving on the freeway. At home I write thoughts in a notebook or on my computer, away from home I write them in my phone. (I hate typing on phones, by the way, and this is only exacerbated by the fact that I am the last person on Earth who hasn’t upgraded to a smart phone.)

Another reason I write so much down is that I’m incredibly forgetful. This is probably directly related to being scatterbrained. I was the kind of teenager that would have to be told five times in a single night to take the trash out, not because I didn’t want to do it but because I would forget immediately after being asked. This characteristic also rears its ugly head when I meet new people, as it’s next to impossible for me to remember names without hearing them several times.

Consequently, I write a lot of stuff down. Some of it is so trivial and mundane that you’d be shocked to see it on my to do list. But most of it is a collection of various ideas that I need to compile into something intelligible. And for a long time I was missing a key ingredient to the creative puzzle; writing things down is not enough to get things done. It’s a great start, and essential for a scatterbrain like me with fingers in various creative pies.

But having a great idea isn’t actually an accomplishment. Following through with it is.

Procrastination is probably my biggest vice. And when I get going, I can put things off like it’s my job. In fact, if I could get paid for procrastination, I’d be making at least six figures (if I ever got around to it). But I don’t. So I actually need to take action.

Example: I had talked about creating a webcomic for years. I told many friends about this idea I had about a dinosaur and a caveman and how it would be a great venue for venting my sarcastic commentary on human nature. Everyone I told said it was a great idea and encouraged me to make it happen.

I didn’t. And I didn’t again the next year. And I kept not doing it.

Then one day, a funny thing happened: I did it.

And once the initial obstacle of getting started was surmounted, not only did I feel like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders, I suddenly opened the floodgates to a deluge of creativity and excitement that glued me to my drawing tablet for days straight. Now the idea that had once been worthless words in a notebook has taken on a life that I can proudly share with the world.

I’m in the process of another example now. I had a backlog of songs I liked that had never seen the light of day. So instead of continuing to sit on them, I finally decided to get recording. I’ve spent hours upon hours over the past week or two recording and polishing a slew of new songs that are close to the mixing stage now. I found whatever motivation I could and I took advantage of it.

And that’s the key: take action the moment you feel inclined. Drop everything you’re doing and make your vision happen. Because writing down your brilliant ideas just isn’t enough. Brilliance has no life on its own… You have to provide that yourself.