How To Grow Your Idea (While Staying Out Of its Way)

Ideas are a funny thing. I love getting them. As a serial entrepreneur, I’m always looking for the next thing. I’ve got my head in the clouds. I’ve had plenty of bad ideas, and a few good ones. But it wasn’t the fact that some of my ideas weren’t that great that killed them. It was the fact that I didn’t know where to start developing them.

Tiny Windows

The window of for putting an idea into motion is a small, small time frame… which many people underestimate. Sure, you can write it down and store somewhere, but the longer it sits on the shelf, the less likely you’ll actually put it into motion.

I’ve found that my best ideas are ones that I started working on immediately. Instead of putting it in the ‘ol someday/maybe list (which people use a bit too often), try creating the most basic structure of the idea, in workable form.

For example: I decided about a week ago that I was going to write an ebook with my friend. We initially decided to make outlines for the topic, meet and go over the outline, revise, and start writing. In short: plan, plan, plan then execute. In theory, that works great. In reality, it bites.

Don’t Lose That Mojo!

If you wait too long to start acting on the idea, you lose the initial “mojo” surrounding the excitement of the fresh idea. Guess how far my friend and I got into writing the ebook, with all the planning beforehand? That’s right: none. The idea had lost its mojo.

I had another idea for an ebook yesterday. Instead of straining over a detailed outline that laid out the book from start to finish, I quickly dumped my initial ideas into a plain ‘ol text file and quickly started writing. I planned less, and did more. I’m happy to report that I’ve almost completed the first chapter, without hardly any effort.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you get out of the way of your idea.

Darwin and Ideas

Another plus side acting instead of planning: it gave my initial idea a chance to evolve. As I’ve quickly written main points and started writing the meat of the chapters, the topic of the book started to change into something even better than my initial idea. I’d given my idea room to grow!

Your idea isn’t finished the second it squirts out of your noggin. In fact, I’d argue that if your idea is complete the second you’re “graced” with it, it wasn’t a very good idea in the first place.

Don’t Start At the Beginning, Silly

I had a college professor who claimed the best way to start writing a paper was to start writing the first thing you can think of, no matter where it fell in position in the paper. The introduction and the conclusion always came last, as your position in the paper started to refine itself.

Most of the time we know what we want, we just don’t know where to start.

So if there is anything to take away from this post it’s this: Don’t try to needlessly plan your idea. Just Do your idea. As you are doing, your idea will probably evolve into something bigger and better than what you initially dreamed.

Don’t get in the way of your idea!

Leave a Comment

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Lavanya July 16, 2008, 4:55 pm

    you know, I think, I agree with you…a lot of time, planning ends up constricting the idea..Sometimes the key is to jump right in..:)

  • Timaree November 16, 2007, 4:20 pm

    Duh! Sometimes my mind doesn’t want to see what is right there! You are right. When I just jump in the project moves and when I keep planning I do it to it’s death and when I file it for later it never goes anywhere. I’ll just have to start starting more often. Thanks for your insight.

  • Dave May 8, 2007, 8:50 pm

    I agree that we need to work with our ideas right away to keep its freshness. Setting it aside will lose its freshness and our interest in applying it in our lives

  • Pamela May 8, 2007, 8:47 pm

    I agree that we need to work with our ideas right away to keep it fresh. Setting it aside will lose its freshness and at the same time our interest in applying it in our lives.

  • glen May 8, 2007, 1:46 pm

    That’s a great point. And if you give your mind an inch…

  • Manny May 8, 2007, 10:36 am

    In effect, the longer you put off the start of the project, the more time the mind has to use its creativity to generate excuses. The mind is constantly creating: if we don’t give it something positive to work on, it may very well come up with an increasingly elaborate justification for inactivity.

  • glen May 7, 2007, 11:32 pm

    Excellent point Pamela. It’s kind of like a filter for figuring out whether our ideas are really good, or just plain crap. :)

  • Pamela May 7, 2007, 9:11 pm

    Maybe ideas are tests which measures our capability and willingness to succeed. If we easily lose our interest in an idea or don’t have any means of remembering it, it shows that we are not yet prepared to have it.

  • glen May 7, 2007, 3:04 pm

    Heh, well put StatMan!

  • StatMan May 7, 2007, 2:34 pm

    Thanks for the “idea” tips. Now that I think about it, those ideas I get really excited about and which end up evolving into something worthwhile are the ones I implement right away. Those I put off don’t seem to get off the ground later when I think I have time. In other words, putting it off really puts it off.

  • Christian Tietze May 7, 2007, 9:56 am

    I’m just about to write a small “novel” myself and I collected some ideas. Planning somehow felt very strange, but just “sit down and write” never worked before either.
    Probably I’ll try a mix of both approaches. I need a basic idea of what I want to write since ranting about useless stuff just because writing is so much fun won’t lead me anywhere.

    Timothy Ferris said he sketched the chapters of his book briefly and had a table of contents before starting the real writing. Soudns very sane for me since it provides a solid frame you can fill out with text.