There are times when you wake up, and you know. You know this idea is excellent, it’s glittery and sparkling, and it’s PERFECT. But maybe someone else should tackle it? No. You should head this project, this was your idea, you should bring your little seed of an idea to fruition. You need to tend to this idea and help it grow into a fantastic Redwood-sized tree and present it to the world. If you aren’t sure where to start, I can help. I’ll be walking through one of my current projects as an example so you can see these steps in action, but these steps can be translated into any project.
#1. Know your vision
For me, I’ve decided to create a children’s book! It’s an exciting project, and I know that my kids will love it. But now that I’ve settled — now what? How do I make my next step? I’m not an illustrator, do I hire one? Do I try something else? What?!
Well, I know what my idea is. It’s going to be a story about three kids adrift in a boat in the fog, who find the edge of the world. I know aesthetically that it’ll be lots of blue and greys with pops of color. Something dreamy and ethereal. So there it is. That’s my vision.
Whether you have a creative idea or something far more structured for work, the first step you need to take is to have a vision. Know what you want, know where you’re headed. If it helps, pull out a pad of paper and list everything that you want and where you envision your project going.
#2. Make a plan
Now that my vision has come into focus, it’s time to start making a plan. And I’m not talking about just making a list, although it might require pen and paper. My book idea needs to be fleshed out, and there needs to be something tangible, other than just “it’s a bookish thing.” It’s time to research mediums and even do a few tests. I’ll also search for a style and inspiration. A few small samples and mock-ups of pages will be the result, as well as various attempts in mediums.
This step will have numerous different iterations, depending on the project you have as a whole. Hit up printers and stores now so you can determine your budget and the materials that you have access to. If you’re looking for something digital, then your options are far more expansive.
#3. Get to work
If you keep working on your plan, you’ll never actually get to work. So now, it’s time to create your set up and get to work. If you like to see things that inspire you, place some of your mock-ups around the room to help encourage new ideas. Otherwise, store them close to you so you can get to them at any time and get to work. Whatever your process is, get to it. This will be the longest step in the process.
#4. Don’t give up!
Inevitably, no matter what it is that you are doing, there will be a time that you become paralyzed. There is a time when it’s too difficult to keep up the slog, and it’s easiest just to walk away. But this is crunch time! Don’t let yourself give up. You can do this, even if it takes you a year.
If you find that you lack motivation, you have to find your spark again. Was there a reason why you lost it? For me, negative feedback is the biggest hurdle. The second is when something doesn’t go as planned, which is going to happen in any endeavor. How I overcome, it is to see other creative people doing creative things. With access to the internet, it’s easy to find inspiration and motivation. Don’t get caught up in it though, because it’s time to get back to work.
If the problem is more than you’ve lost your way or your vision, pull out what you’ve created so far. Every single iteration, from doodled thumbnails on napkins at restaurants to final mockups. Find the thread that carried you from the idea to now. If you can’t carry the thread through, find where it stopped. It might mean that you need to do the dreaded backtracking. If you do, though, you might see that you recapture your vision by going back to where you lost your way.
#5. Congrats! You’ve made it.
It. Is. FINISHED! There is no better feeling than having your idea manifested into reality in your hands. If you’re an emotional wreck like I am, you’ll probably cry from sheer joy. But you have a finished piece. I had a small “Draft Party” when I finished my final capstone project for my degree. It was only a little get together for my friends and me, but it is still one of my shining moments from my college career. Celebrate your victory however you want and take the time to revel in your hard work.
#6. What are you going to do with it now?
From here, you get to decide what to do with your project. Will you launch it to the public? Will you share it with those you love? Will you self-publish or find a publisher? It’s all up to you. Whatever you choose, get back up and keep going.
No matter what you want to work on, it’s important to know where you’re going. From start to finish, your idea can become a reality. It takes work, and it takes time. If you’re willing to put into it what it needs to flourish, you’re guaranteed to have a product that you’re proud of.