There are five things you need in order to bring an idea to fruition. I say that today knowing that if you ask me tomorrow, I might list more than five or list a different five and that is because life is an experience that is constantly changing. Also because I made this list in my head 15 minutes ago while I was making popcorn. Let us begin...
You must start with an idea. Today, I was supposed to be watching an hour-long news story about teens and social media but that felt overwhelming because who makes hour-long anythings these days and I thought, "I would like some popcorn!" We have many ideas in a day but the tricky part is figuring out which ones are good ideas and which ones are not. For example, I once had an idea to hit a tire with a hammer as hard as a I could. That was a bad idea because I did not take into account the fact that rubber bounces, hammers are hard and my forehead was awfully close to the whole tire/hammer situation. However, making popcorn was a great idea! It was concrete, involved little risk for brain injury, and was something that I could easily accomplish in the time available. Once you have your brilliant idea, you are ready to move to the next step.
Without action, ideas remain abstract things that rattle around in our heads and distract us from our Purpose™. Yes, I capitalized Purpose™ because I am very inspirational today and that means I can make things seem very important with a well-placed capital letter and a ™. Sometimes, we need motivation in order to take action. We need to be chased by Hyenas™ or have a deep, soul-stirring Desire™. Today, I had a deep, soul-stirring Desire™ for popcorn and I was running away from imagined Hyenas™, so, I was motivated to step away from my desk where I was supposed to be writing and make the long trek downstairs to the kitchen to make popcorn. It's not enough to want the Popcorn™; You have to Make It™. Write that down.
3. Attention to Detail
All good writing involves detail because without specifics, it becomes the ramen noodles of words--a block of tasteless, squiggly starch with a nondescript silver packet of unknown brown spices that taste like "salt" or "my tongue is weirdly numb" or "college." You must pay attention to detail. For example, I wouldn't pour popcorn in a paper bag and put it in the microwave and then forget about it and then get on Facebook, only to go back to the popcorn and find that it blew out the bottom of the bag and the microwave was filled with rogue popcorn kernels. Ok, I did exactly that but wasn't that fortuitous because we all learned a valuable lesson! Take your time. Pay attention. Don't buy cheap brown paper lunch sacks at Target.
As with all things in life, there will be challenges and obstacles to overcome. Your ideas will seem trite or you won't be able to stop looking at pictures of cake fails online or you won't be able to write a scene with the right level of detail. Or all of those things will happen AND you will have popcorn kernels in your microwave and then you'll try to wipe them out onto a towel but they will fall all over the floor and the cat will start batting them around the kitchen like some weird game of feline corn shuffleboard. You must meet these challenges head on! You will prevail! Keep exploring new ideas, sweep up all the popcorn kernels and get on with it. Please note that sweeping up the popcorn kernels is both literal and figurative. Fancy.
5. A Willingness to Accept Imperfection
In The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life, Ann Patchett says, "Only a few of us are going to be willing to break our own hearts by trading in the living beauty of imagination for the stark disappointment of words." In Popcorn Psychology: A Blog Post with Kernels of Truth, Vikki Reich says, "I was really looking forward to this popcorn but it's a little burnt and tastes awful because there was no oil in that stupid brown paper bag so the salt didn't stick." Even brilliant ideas don't always turn out the way we want them to. Sometimes, you finish a draft and realize you have to start over. Sometimes, you make a horrible batch of popcorn and realize you should have had cookies. You never know what will happen! Isn't that fun?
Thank you for reading! Now, I have to go watch that hour-long news story and I have a bowl of awful popcorn. Bonus Tip: Procrastination rarely ends well.