The Hard Truth About Big Ideas

As you may have noticed, my blog has been in a bit of a holding pattern for awhile. This hasn’t been lack of motivation on my part, rather too much unfocused motivation.

You see, I have this problem that some of you may share. I’m an “idea person.” Even worse, I’m a BIG idea person. Lots of thoughts, lots of opinions, and twice as many stories buzz around my mind constantly. I get lines of dialogue waking me up in the middle of the night … blog post topics while driving on the highway … story structure in the shower.

You get the idea.

Big Ideas are my downfall.

The problem is execution. I have things to work on, things I’m passionate about. I know I should be working on those things, but somehow only a smattering of what I wanted to get accomplished actually gets done.

Which brings to mind this great quote from Thomas Edison:

Genius is one percent inspiration; ninety-nine percent perspiration.

I have inspiration aplenty (whether or not I have genius is irrelevant here). But I haven’t been putting in the perspiration to make those big ideas reality.

I could make excuses all day. I have a full-time job. Two young kids. A husband I want to keep for another decade (at least!). But the hard truth is that I don’t always manage my time well.

So this year my one and only resolution is to do better at this one thing: manage my time. Get my big ideas focused into achievable goals and actually sit down and plug away at them until they are D-O-N-E. No more excuses, no more fear of failing. It’s time for me to take all my inspiration and do some good ol’ hard perspiring. (That sounds more disgusting than I intended.)

Step 1: Develop a Plan

I hate this.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t know how to plan, it’s just that planning isn’t easy because it forces me to see that all my fancy big ideas are really just a million tiny steps. It makes them less big and less ambitious. As a bonus, though, it also makes the achievable. I have two books in the planning phase and one that’s in final edits. So I’ve divided each project into the steps needed for completion.

Example: finish plotting; finish character development; write first draft; etc.

I almost sabotaged myself by wanting to research some awesome planning tools. You know: apps for time or project management; apps for keeping track of time spent, blah, blah, blah. This is usually what I do when I actually start working towards a goal. Find a new project to distract myself!

But I resisted, and just used a table in Word for each project. (Yes, I know, Word is the Devil). I got it done though.

Then I categorized them as either Big Ticket or Tiny Treat.

Big Tickets are things like working on a blog post, or on my forthcoming plotting method, or just plain writing cause it’s awesome. Any of these though, take a more substantial time commitment even to just sit down and get into work-mode.

Tiny Treats are things such as being active on Pinterest and Twitter and my home-away-from-home, Scribophile. These take less time, and also quickly turn into time-sinks if I let them get out of hand.

Step 2: Set Timelines

Planning was nowhere near the pain I thought it would be, once I actually committed to getting it done. Next is budgeting for time.

I left myself two columns in my table devoted to:

Time Anticipated


Time Spent

This way, as I budget the time I think each step will take, I can also keep a record of how long it actually takes me.

Like my laughable goal of 90 writing days to finish a first draft! I did try NaNo this year, but it is honestly not for me. As I write, if changes pop up, I MUST go back and do edits because otherwise the changes aren’t ‘real.’ Don’t ask. So 30 days is out, and 6 months is not being ambitious enough. Therefore: 90 days it is. This is reasonable given how much I can actually write in a day (easily over 2000 words once I get a head of steam), but also reflects that I won’t be able to devote that much time to writing every day.

Timelines should be achievable, yet challenging enough that you are motivated to meet them. However, something I should mention is that I recognize that this process is flexible. It must be. If new steps come up, I’ll add them to the plan. If timelines need serious readjustment, I won’t bemoan not being able to meet them. I’m human (still), and therefore need to give myself some room to be fallible.

Step Three: Just Do It

Nike stole their name from a goddess, so I don’t mind co-opting their slogan for my personal motivation.

There are actually two phases to Just Do It.

Phase one involves deciding every day to work on at least three items from my list. Three might seem ambitious, but since one item is a Tiny Treat, they don’t (read: shouldn’t) take up much time. And I can only credit myself with one of these per day,, so extra time spent on Tiny Treats doesn’t count as ‘real work.’

Which means the real focus is that I must make meaningful progress on at least two Big Ticket items per work day.

Phase two involves actually doing the damn work. I’m going to hold myself accountable and keep track. How? No candy or adult beverages if I don’t meet my goals for the day. Either I will become insanely productive or I’ll drop 10 pounds in record time. It’s a win-win.

Big Ideas, Small Changes

I’m going to keep logging my big ideas, and keep working on getting them out into the world. Hopefully, with these small changes, I will be that much closer to making my big plans a reality.

How about you? Are you a big ideas person? Has it helped or hindered you?

Any tips you’d like to share will be most gratefully received.

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