Your new creative idea is the most brilliant yet. But will it work? Adopting this mindset will ensure that the answer is always a resounding yes.
In notebooks. In dreams. In chats with friends over coffee. In the shower. In your doodles. In your wide eyes after you’ve had a second glass of wine. New ideas have this way of bursting free from our creative minds whenever and wherever there’s an opening.
We can’t attempt every one of them. We know that. But have you ever thought about how special your idea becomes the moment you decide to pursue it?
We owe it to those precious ideas to see them through to completion. Yet we’re often unwilling to push past our insecurities to get there. Doubt can be awfully loud. Is there a way to turn down the volume? Yes. In fact, I’m learning how to shut it off.
My new creative idea
Last year, I started running with one of those precious ideas. I wrote my first novel, a new pursuit for me. The experience came with quite a learning curve, but I prevailed. Success! Yes, I am proud. But the completion of the manuscript was only a checkpoint on the way to my final destination: a traditionally published piece, on a bookstore shelf, with a beautiful cover.
With “the hard work” behind me, I recently began the exciting but nerve-wracking process of finding a literary agent. It is a new zone of unfamiliar territory; navigating the world of publishing and learning to comprehend its accompanying jargon.
Not all creative ideas are equal
“Humbling” is the adjective I’ve been using to describe my journey. In Episode 060 of A Podcast for Creatives, I elaborate on how this idea to write and publish is uncharacteristic. Not so much the writing and publishing part, but the doing something that I’ve never done before part. On our show, Steve is always prompting to tell stories of how I’ve overcome a struggle, and I never have much to say.
With no shortage of ideas, it’s amazing that we don’t always choose the easiest ones. If you don’t try something new, you can’t fail, and that’s where I’ve hovered: in the not-failing zone.
When you stick to what you know and do the things you’ve always done, there is far less chance that you’ll be judged. I have yet to meet a person who enjoys said judgment.
Daring to pursue creative ideas that impact
But no artist has ever been celebrated for playing it safe. Creators are meant to disrupt. It’s how we help people look at things from new perspectives and, dare I say, change the world. Rejecting that calling results in a loss for everyone, yet so many of us find excuses to ignore it.
The moment I finished my manuscript, I began to slip into that oh so familiar state of feeling like an imposter. Even though I had just written an entire book, I wasn’t comfortable calling myself a writer or, God forbid, an author. Doing so would challenge my identity, and my ego wasn’t about to stand for that. No ma’am. In fact, it armored up and reported for duty. Mission: find trouble.
Will your new creative idea work? Stop looking for the wrong kind of proof
In a blatant act of insecurity, I began to make a case against the idea that I should be a published author. One thing has become apparent to me. If you are ever looking for proof that what you’re about to do won’t work, it’ll take you no time at all.
Negativity became my catnip. I latched on to every story of failure I could find. Anytime I read or heard an account of an author who deemed the publishing process “so hard,” or “soul-crushing,” I would go, “Ah-hah! See right there! This is why I shouldn’t publish my book!”
What do we allow to kill our creative ideas?
I reached my low point on a Saturday afternoon. I was sitting on my bed, procrastinating my third round of book edits when I opened up Twitter. In that moment of determined avoidance, I stumbled upon a hashtag called #TenQueries, that literary agents use to publicly critique ten submissions (like the one I would soon send).
The criticism in their tweets seemed to glisten on the screen. There was probably more to them, but “pass,” “reject,” “no go,” and “not for me” were the only words I could see. I hadn’t even begun the querying process, and already I felt defeated. The proof I needed was staring me in the face.
I closed out Twitter and shut my laptop with the velocity of someone who had just been caught watching something unsavory. Because that’s exactly what I was doing. I was reading trash.
A redirection of attention
Did I seriously almost let a single Twitter thread completely derail my plans? I vowed that I’d never look at that hashtag again. Furthermore, I reminded myself that the same energy I was using to fuel my insecurities could be redirected. It would be just as easy to find the positive proof I needed to keep moving.
I turned the tables and began seeking success stories. Even though I subscribe to the principle that “what you seek is seeking you,” I was still amazed at how quickly things started to turn around. The second I made the decision that things would work out, my path became clear.
Attracting the help you need
As I was completing my final round of edits, I connected with Christine from Asterism & Co, who I hired to help me prepare for the pitching process. She was one of the first people to read my manuscript in its entirety and equipped me with everything I needed to begin the querying process. But more valuable than her services was a comment she made at the end of one of our calls: “Expect 2021 to be an exciting year for you.”
The validity of her prediction doesn’t matter. At that moment, she gave me confidence, and that positivity empowered me to move to the next stage of this process where I now find myself: pitching to literary agents.
Focusing on the big picture
I was only a week into pitching before I hit a bump in the road. You can hear the long version of this story in Episode 060 of A Podcast for Creatives. Christine did not say, “Expect for 2021 to be seamless”. She said, “Expect for it to be exciting.” Though my hiccup was annoying at the time, it ultimately ended in a win— and that is the long-term outlook that I plan to take through the rest of this journey. There may be challenges, but they will always bear fruit.
Deciding to write and publish a book is my grandest creative idea yet. And dammit, it’s getting everything I can possibly give.
Are you honoring your creative ideas?
Understand the sanctity of your creative pursuits. Whether it be writing, publishing, designing, or something else, as you embark into uncharted territory, keep the completed project at the forefront of your mind. There are a million things that can go wrong, but you can choose to focus on all the ways things can go right.
Will your new creative idea work? If you wholeheartedly believe it will, you’ve already won.
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