I am constantly amazed to see how many talented writers and artists simply blow right by the planning stage and plunge ahead.
I appreciate the enthusiasm to channel inspiration when it strikes, but editors, agents and potential investors need a focused pitch.
Here are some quick points to helping you achieve that focus for your big idea:
Start With a Basic Outline
If drafting a basic outline to organize your creative project sounds like Writing 101, that’s because it is a basic task. But it’s not just for writing projects. Don’t think: Rigid Plan. Think: Visualization of my concept and its many moveable parts. Here is a very simple template you can use.
I. INTRODUCTION TO MAIN IDEA
A. Subsidiary idea or supporting idea to I.
1. Subsidiary idea to A.
a) Subsidiary idea to 1.
Should your concept be more complex than a single main idea, simply use this model, rinse and repeat. All ideas need to ladder up to the overarching premise, and be nicely wrapped with your conclusion.
The Index Card Method
Many moons ago as a young pup in journalism school, an ancient, eccentric professor recommended we draft our outlines for long-form print magazine pieces (remember those?) on a series of index cards.
We laughed haughtily at him, but later, when facing a short deadline and the multi-headed hydra of a local community policy assignment, I gave it a try.
Visually dissect the elements of your idea and write them down. Physically shuffle those cards around to form different arrangements. New and wonderful patterns will emerge. Sure you can cut and paste text blocks around a warm glowing screen. But there is something to be said for the offline visualization.
Ask Yourself the Hard Questions
Before you plan investing a substantial amount of time and effort in a creative project, it is important to answer to questions:
What problem am I solving?: This may sound like a strange question, but it actually helps you envision the substance of your work. Why does the world need your BlogMemoirPaintingSculptureBusiness? What new trail are you blazing? What I are you dotting? Are you building a better mousetrap? You’ll be surprised at what such introspection will reveal.
Who am I solving this problem for?: I know, I know. You’re a real artist and you’re not chasing a trend. I get it. If you truly are doing this for your personal artistic expression, you should still be able to articulate what type of person you are creating for, even if it is yourself.
I am not trying to put you in a creative box, but rather enable you to share your idea more effectively. When we have structure and discipline, we achieve the clarity we need to make the creative decisions that make it possible to reach further and climb higher.
Lacking such creative clarity, you’ll just flop around in circles.
To contact Craig McGuire directly, please email Craig@BrooklynCreativePartners.com.
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