by Meg Dowell
There’s more to an idea than just a thought process.
Before I rebranded this blog in 2015, I thought long and hard about a name and tagline. Finally realizing I wanted this to be an informational and inspirational hub for writers to Do All The Writing Things — and not just me talking about myself all the time, ugh — helped me create my blog’s simultaneous tagline and purpose statement:
Putting ideas into words.
These four words summed up everything I wanted my blog to become. I wanted to help writers of all kinds, at all stages of the process, take their ideas, sit down, and actively create something.
The past few years, I hope, have become the example of everything I’m trying to teach and motivate you to accomplish. Novelty Revisions is not the biggest blog in its niche, it’s not a fully stocked resource for anyone who happens to stumble upon it (yet). But it has grown, and continues to grow. I’ve accidentally created something, from a very small idea, that’s becoming bigger than I ever dreamed it could be.
But all this could not have happened with just a good idea.
People come up with good ideas for blogs and books and shows and movies every single day. Many of these ideas never turn into anything tangible. And many that do never make it very far. Think about how many unfinished novels, screenplay drafts, and blog posts there are in the world right now. You might even have a dozen hiding on your hard drive right now. (I know I do!)
Why don’t these things ever get finished? Why do so many finished drafts never get “made”?
Because it’s not enough to have a good idea. It’s often not even good enough to start transforming that idea into something sustainable.
All good ideas need a person. Not someone to act as the face of that idea, not someone to stand around and talk about that idea an dream about how good it’s going to be when it’s finished.
An idea needs someone willing to Do The Work.
Not just the first chapter. Not just the first draft. Doing The Work means you’re making a commitment to start — and a promise not to stop until whatever becomes of your idea can either thrive without your guidance or be put to rest knowing you did all you could to help it grow.
Good ideas succeed when the driving force behind the idea refuses to let it die.
Sometimes you try as hard as you can, and ideas don’t work. Sometimes Life Happens, and you have to say goodbye to a beloved idea before it gets the chance to thrive.
But as long as you did the work, as long as you gave it your all, that’s not called failing. It’s called writing.
We write. We figure out that piece of writing doesn’t work. So we write again. And again. And again.
If I hadn’t Done The Work to build this blog from the unsteady foundation where it stood — if I hadn’t kept doing it, even when slow growth made me want to quit — you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
But I did. And I still do. Because there’s just something about seeing your hard work pay off that makes you want to work even harder. Or maybe that’s just me, and my mess of a brain.
Don’t stop at the idea stage. Don’t you dare. Keep going. Make something good. What do you have to lose?
Guest post contributed by Meg Dowell. Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.