Over the past year I've found my life fuller than ever before and at the same time have begun to pursue creative work more seriously and now see myself as a creative person. In this time I've developed a simple way to guide my creative energies. It goes like this: when I think of a new idea, it's worth further consideration if I can end the thought with "...because that would be awesome."
Not "because that's what I should do" or "because that's what makes the most sense" or "because that might make money". My best ideas end with "because that would be awesome."
"Because that would be awesome" ideas are the ones I can't stop thinking about; they force themselves into my limited free time and demand my attention. Reflecting on it, I've found that my "because that would be awesome" ideas are awesome to me because the process and final product would accomplish one or more of the following:
+ help someone in some way
+ teach me something new
+ connect me to new people
These are things that excite me about creative work; this is my awesome place. If an idea accomplishes all three of these then it's super awesome.
The final hurdle to pursuing a "because that would be awesome" idea is that is has to be do-able. By this I mean it can't require an insurmountable investment of time or money. This criterion isn't a complete show-stopper but an idea requires careful consideration if I can't easily see where the time or money for a project would come from. I'm also a big fan of starting a version of the idea with the time and money that I do have and seeing where than can take me.
I realized that I was operating under the "because that would be awesome" mantra last year as I told Chris about my idea for an e-course for working moms. He got excited about it but he quickly focused on the business side and an approach for monetizing the idea. His perspective is completely reasonable since he runs a small business but it wasn't what I wanted to focus on right then. I got frustrated and told him, "No, the point of this is not to make money, the point is that it's an awesome project and I want to help people!"
Of course, Chris and I both had good points. The business side is important if I want my e-course to be sustainable. But in the early development of an idea I just want to bask in its awesomeness and build up my well of motivation for the project. Chris was jumping ahead of me and I wasn't ready for that stage yet.
However, I truly believe that if I do ever develop a stream of income from my creative work it will start with a "because that would be awesome idea." Those are the ideas I'm most passionate about and that passion will carry through to seeing an idea to fruition and creating a quality product that will be valuable to someone else.
Over the past year my "because that would be awesome" ideas included:
+ I should write an e-course that will be for working mamas to help them make the transition back to work...because that would be awesome.
+ Erica and I should have a podcast where we get together and try a new cocktail and chat and laugh...because that would be awesome.
+ I should pitch a story to Remedy Quarterly and try to get published....because that would be awesome.
+ I should do some sort of monthly photo challenge to help me learn to use my DSLR...because that would be awesome.
+ I should do a summer postcard project where I send postcards to anyone who wants one and ask them to send me a postcard...because that would be awesome. [More details on this one in early June, can't wait to share!]
Of course there are more awesome ideas than I have bandwidth for right now (and I am so thankful to be in this situation). And not all of my awesome ideas are truly awesome once I spend time to think about them. An idea like, "I should start a project series where I sew one new thing every month...because that would be awesome" wasn't quite as awesome once I really thought about it. I realized this idea might actually be more stress than awesome because it would require significant time and planning and I'm not really focused on crafting right now.
To make sure I have a truly awesome idea, I like to chew on it for a while to see if the awesomeness holds up. As I turn an idea over and over, if I find myself buzzing with ideas and excitement and mentally building out the project in my head then that's a very good sign. If, instead, the more I think about the project the more roadblocks I think of and it starts to stress me out before I've even begun that's a very serious red flag; retreat!
Or, sometimes, an idea is a truly awesome one but I just don't have the bandwidth for it. That's when it gets filed away, in Bullet Journal!, for safe keeping. You never know when an awesome idea's time to shine will be!