Worried about taking your next great idea and turning it into a tangible thing? Don’t be! Here are some tips on turning half-cooked ideas into masterpieces.
I have an issue, something I struggle with across my writing and even sometimes my speaking. Something I see from my journals all the way through my life planning. It is in my folders on my author program. It is on whiteboards, the dead skin of my thoughts a sunburn now peeled back, erased, leaving tiny flakes of their remembrance, hidden, invisible across my apartment. Concepts I had, ideas, never explored or never expounded. Promises I made of what I would accomplish.
I have a full folder of blogs I should have written long ago, and then my brain got in the way. I should be making. Then my brain says no. It hits all of a sudden, and I lose the capabilities to turn a full thought into anything else but a half finished formation of words. I start out with a beautiful idea. A story inspires it, always. And then, all of a sudden, I get 1,200 words down. At this point, I can go no further. There is nothing else I can come up with. Nothing else I can put down.
I am great at the beginning, it is the denouement where I never succeed The start, damn, well I am a horse out the gates. Never bet on me at the end oh reader, because I will always let you down. Always I fail to deliver you a full idea.
How then, does one combat this because there has to be some way of fighting against this right? Even if I am a failure at getting most of my ideas out into the world, I have done a damn good job of getting some out. And I am proud of the ones I have turned from nothing into something and vice versa. We must be able to get some thoughts from our head into reality. The key lies in making something from nothing. The capability to take the meaningless thought to fruition. Not saying an unformed thought is without meaning; it is just similar to an uncooked egg. The yolk is there and can be used, and you can consume raw egg, however, most people do not.
Most people would prefer to get something else, to go above and beyond the raw capacity of the egg. Most people want to cook with it, and they want to turn it into something. They want to do something more with the raw ingredients they have and to sit there, allowing the egg to sit still, to consume it raw—this is not for them.
How then, do we, as humans, take the raw eggs that are our ideas and turn them into something beautiful—a gourmet quiche of thoughts. A beautiful, delectable dessert everyone wants more of. How do we take the raw, the sometimes mundane, the base ingredient everyone is familiar with, and transform it into something more?
In the concept of percolating your ideas, cooking them, pan frying them, stirring them into dishes and allowing them to be something people brag about, there is a process. I am no expert in this by any means. I am still learning. If I were an expert, I would likely not have a need for the rewrite, constantly contagiously across my work. I would not have thousands of unwritten words haunting my computers like a ghost on the shore. I would have accomplished much more as a writer if only I could master the perfection of ideas. But you do not have to a be a master in something for others to enjoy your basics, and this is what I have learned.
I am no expert bartender, but I have a fairly good understanding of how to make a damn splendiforous martini. And I am not the best writer, but I do have a great idea of how to take some ideas, how to tap the crazy that can be your mind and turn it into something of value.
Here are some thoughts on the process, simplified, distilled, watered down and drained to the point of basic understanding. Here are some means to make something out of nothing at all.
Start with an Idea
As of now, you are probably thinking for yourself, “Tim, you idiot. We get this article is on how to turn ideas into something meaningful. Of course if you are trying to turn an idea into an art form, you have to start with an idea.”
I get this. I do.
When I say start with an idea, what is mean is you must be willing to write down the specific idea you are trying to convey. Many times, I see people who say, “I want to write about business.” Or, “I need to write something for work about social media use in the company.” Or “I need to create a manual for all our new recruits.”
These are ideas yes, wrapped in the form of sentences and given life by context. But, if these are ideas, these are bare skeletons. They are not specific. They could be for anything. They could mean anything, they could be about anything. If you want to flesh out an idea, what you need to do is be specific.
When a paleontologist looks at bones, they tell you whether the bones they are looking at are those of a dinosaur or those of a wooly mammoth. They have a specific understanding what they are discussing. They are not just saying, “these are fossils.” They are specific about details.
You have to start with an idea, this idea, it must be specific, however. It is not just “I need to write about business.” That could be your general desire, but the idea is, “I need to write about how to make businesses run smoother with good communication channels.”
Spill All You Have on the Idea
So you have a specific idea, great. You have created a framework of what it is you are going to be writing about further. You understand what you are going to be discussing and exploring. Now comes stage two.
Vomit out the contents of your mind.
At least this is what I call it. When I write, I regurgitate every idea. I throw up all my thoughts onto a page and the first time I do this, I am not focused on making it pretty. I am retching my thoughts out there. After all, it is not meant to look pretty. It is not meant to look anything. It is graphic, and it is present and it is full. It is just there.
By letting my mind flood onto the paper, it allows me to get everything out without fear of missing something. The first time I throw up, I put far too much on the page. But, this gives me plenty of material. A plethora of thoughts, a multitude of magnificent concepts and ideas. This provides me the capabilities of creating something from the clutter. The first time I jot all the thoughts down, I am not producing much of significance, and this is okay. I am producing much.
And the much, the mess, it gives me room to expand upon my ideas by reduction.
Clean Up Your Mess
They say great art is measured by what you leave behind. I am not exactly sure who they are, but they have said this thought before, this much I do know.
Art comes from what you leave out of your creations—whether you are writing or making a film or compiling data in a unique way for a spreadsheet No matter how you are creating, you create not by what you put in but by what you take out. That is unless you are baking. Baking takes great amounts of input.
The next phase of distilling an idea from misery and mayhem to musical melodies is to take your idea and make it something much more significant, by cutting away all the mess. Work through what you have vomited on the page, the mess you made, and work backward. Take these ideas and reduce them. Make them small.
Sometimes, you might find one point, one single sentence, remains. You might find you love everything about what you threw out there or you might find you loved nothing at all. This is okay. Take as much as you can and if necessary, throw up more. Put more out there as much as necessary. Do this until your raw product is something you are proud of sharing.
Arrange it Real Pretty
Flowers are gorgeous. We all know this. Where flowers are gorgeous, they are even more beautiful when arranged in a bouquet. No bride every asked for a wedding where people just handed them daisies. You want your idea to look good too.
Your ideas are now marvelous. How couldn’t they be—you created them after all. So make them look good, organize them however your might need to in whatever way might make the most sense for you and your audience.
The product you are creating, your output, it is going to critically determine what arrangement you use. You know your intended recipients and what they want to see, so make for them and what they are going to consider a success. Also arrange it as you desire, this is your work too after all.
No matter what, just make it look nice and pretty.
If you are creating something and you hate what you are making, take a break. Maybe for a few minutes, maybe for good.
I get it, sometimes we have jobs where we have to make stuff. I understand the real world blah blah nonsense. But, here is the thing about creation, whether for work or pleasure. You should have fun with what you are doing as you are doing it. Make sure you are enjoying yourself in some way. If not, take a break.
Sometimes this break might need to be for a short amount of time. Other times the break might need to be for an extended period. Other times still the break might need to be a permanent one. Do not allow yourself to hate the process of creating your next big things.
There are differences between sacrifice and toil—and the associated emotional pains coming from these elements—and the pain you feel when you are putting yourself through a miserable creation experience where the idea of making something is dreaded.
It is okay to be frustrated while creating. It is okay to be a little disenchanted while taking a meaningful idea and turning it into something.more. You never should be bloody miserable, well, because being bloody miserable is just miserable. And no one wants that.
When taking an idea from nothing to something, the key lies in one thing above all else. Do not overthink it. Often, when we overthink things, it makes us afraid, it makes us question.
You have a unique and beautiful story worth sharing. Whether your ideas are perfect or flawed, they have salt in the world. Even when you might not think your ideas are worth coming to fruition, give them a chance, you might be surprised what you are capable of creating when you give yourself the chance.