Here’s how it works:
You have an idea. Maybe a brilliant idea, even. (At least it seems that way to you.)
You get excited about it. Maybe you write lots of notes. You expand on it, play with it, tease it into shape.
And then you get stalled.
Days go by. Weeks. Months, even. And your brilliant idea is still just that: an idea.
You start to wonder if maybe you should just abandon your idea. There is a school of thought, after all, that if you haven’t brought an idea to life within a week (or month, or 3 months, or whatever, depending on who’s talking) it means you’re never going to do it, maybe shouldn’t do it. Should just move on.
But you know it’s a good idea. You know you’re going to do it… you just don’t know exactly when.
After all, it’s not like you’re sitting around twiddling your thumbs, eating bon bons all day. You’ve been putting a ton of energy into other things. The idea will germinate when it’s ready. At least you hope it will…
And then, suddenly, without warning, it’s ready.
Like dilated 9 centimeters and ready to be born NOW kinda ready.
And before you realize it you’re deep in the Creative-Obsession Cave, laboring to bring this baby to light.
This may last a few days. A week. A few weeks. Even more.
If you’re lucky, you have someone to act as a circuit-breaker, to pull you away from your computer / drafting table / work bench / whatever. To force you, blinking like a creature of the night, into the outdoors, and bring you food, and remind you to maybe wash your hair once in a while.
But even with a circuit-breaker, you know you’re going to be run hard and put away wet by the end of this thing. And yet there’s nothing you can do about it.
Your mind is on creative hyper-drive and will not let you sleep. Or stay asleep. So in the wee hours, every night, you roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders, heave a sigh and heave yourself out of bed to get back to work.
Which is hard. Challenging and horribly frustrating sometimes. But sooooo much more fun than lying awake, staring at the ceiling.
And you love it.
You realize that you actually love the hard. You thrive on the challenge, even when it makes you gnash your teeth and pull out your hair. The sense of accomplishment when you master the Hard Thing in your way makes you feel ten feet tall.
Until the next Hard Thing shows up, and then there’s more teeth gnashing and hair pulling.
And then you’re ten feet tall again.
Then finally, one day, after what seems like forever (the days having blended into each other so much by now that your hold on the space-time continuum is tenuous), it’s done.
Your idea is no longer just an idea, but a real Thing.
Oh, it may need some tweaking. (Or a lot of tweaking.) But it’s breathing on its own, and the adrenaline and fumes that have been keeping you running start to subside.
You gradually start to remember how to sleep. You poke your head out of the cave and are reminded of all the other, beautiful things that live outside, and how much you love them.
You’re wrung out, and fried, and exhausted, and shaky. But proud.
Take a break, dear creative. Pat yourself on the back. Go on a walk (or 3 or 17). Go to the mall. Go to the movies. Take a nap, for god’s sake.
Acknowledge the amazing thing you accomplished. Breathe. Watch the clouds go by.
There’ll be plenty of time to jump onto the next idea. In a little bit.
For now, just bask in the glory of knowing: You did it.
PS – Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!