When it comes to creative ideas, early in my career, I learned the value of waiting as long as possible to begin. For instance, when I start a script, blog post, article, or book, the last thing I do is to actually write. Even when I feel the thoughts coming together, I fight the urge to sit down at the keyboard. Despite the schedule or approaching deadline, I let it churn around inside, bang about in my head, and percolate, and only when I can’t hold back any longer, I fire up the laptop and start writing.
I often joke that I don’t even think about starting a project until I see the deadline looming in the distance. I often describe it as the adrenaline rush a pilot feels during liftoff when he sees the end of the runway coming closer and closer. Whatever it is, seeing that deadline gets my heart pumping and my blood flowing. When that happens, a flood of creative ideas start, and it’s sometimes difficult to type fast enough to keep up.
(You can see more of this subject on my teaching on YouTube.)
I’m a firm believer that a significant number of creative people who suffer from writer’s block are simply starting their projects too soon. They may have the initial concept of the project in mind, but the ideas come at a trickle. But when you dam up the river, the level builds and builds so that when you open the floodgate, the torrent begins.
I spend a lot of time fact-finding, and I don’t start writing until I have too much to say. I don’t believe you can write fluent copy if you have to interrupt yourself with research. Dig first, then write.
—David Abbott, advertising copywriter and member of The One Show Hall of Fame
So, start by not starting. Do your research, collect books and articles on the topic, and if there’s a location, visit it. Reflect. Think. Ponder.
Let the pressure build.
—Ernest Hemingway, novelist and Nobel Prize winner
Hold back. Fight the urge to start. And then when you’re ready, the ideas are much more likely to flow!
This is an excerpt from my book “Ideas on a Deadline: How to Be Creative When The Clock Is Ticking. Available at bookstores everywhere.