Alas, there’s no GPS for the creative process, and if you were hoping following the lines would reveal one, I am sorry to disappoint. However, you’ll see some hard-learned insights on maintaining your momentum and your sanity during the process that is equal parts Eastern mysticism and Walt Disney “Whistle While You Work”-ism.
Lay solid foundations for a daydream. Tales of spontaneous, revolutionary “A-ha!” moments are the stuff of legend. And legends are comforting, but they’re just plain fiction. Forethought fuels epiphanies. Develop a detailed map of your specific purpose, your marketplace, your audience, your competition. Codify these details in writing and/or in imagery, become intimately familiar with them, then set them entirely aside. These serve as the net for the high-wire act to follow.
Let your freak flag fly. When brainstorming/conceptualizing, don’t refine or polish initial ideas and insights. Let them flow as freely and abundantly as you can. Open up the tap and let it all pour out. Fill the page, the whiteboard, the cocktail napkin, with thoughts and sketches, and don’t stop and don’t think and don’t question. Consider going analog to capture these rough ideas. There’s something kinetic and cathartic about scribbling and sketching primordial ideas you don’t get from fingertips on a keyboard. Try to
explore as much horizontal conceptual space as possible—generate more broad, diverse ideas, rather than diving into specifics of a few. Truth: Jack Kerouac typed his epic novel On The Road onto a continuous 120-foot-long scroll, in a nonstop, stream of consciousness state. (However, this was after years of copious journal notes, and discarded initial drafts).
Hooray for self-doubt? Make no mistake: “God, I suck!” moments will assail you during the process, and it’s of paramount importance that you embrace it. Self-doubt is more than just part of the creative process and entrepreneurship, it’s what all creative people have in common—like a secret handshake. When Fear and Doubt arrive, say hello and welcome them in. These feelings mean you’re doing it right, that you’re emotionally invested, and that you give a shit about what you’re creating.
And create, you shall.