Do you have one of those ideas that’s clamoring at your soul to work on?

Novice creative knowledge-workers and creatives have the curse of too many ideas without enough experience to know what it takes to see an idea through. Every creative project in its infancy seems so easy and bright and fun. Not only that, but they tend to be pseudo-existential Sirens, making us feel as if we’re simply not complete until we dislodge ourselves from whatever we’ve committed to work on and swim in the creative waters toward them.

In my early days of working with hypercreative entrepreneurs, I thought the best way to support clients when the Sirens started calling was to encourage my clients to lash themselves to their main creative projects, much like Odysseus lashed himself to his ship. For most ideas, this works pretty well; it’s as easy as letting the bright, shiny object sit for a week or two until your interest wanes or until a new shiny object grabs your attention.

Some Sirens are particularly strong, though. No amount of waiting or mast-lashing weakens their pull. At a certain point, our creative five-year-old comes out and starts raging and sabotaging every other creative project we have.

So, the solution: start the first steps of working on that idea. If it’s a book, start working on the synopsis, outline, or whatever scene or idea is gripping you. If it’s a product, start working out the substance or sales hook. If it’s a program, start coding or wire-framing. If you want to start a new blog, start writing out a few posts and see what comes together.

While it may be a distraction, if you’re going to lose a week or two of focused, engaged creative momentum while the five-year-old rages anyway, you might as well get the idea out of your system. And who knows, maybe you will discover that this is That Creative Thing You Were Meant To Do.

If it’s not, it’s one less thing to turn to whenever your meaningful creative projects start to get hard and Resistance starts working on you all over again. The Eureka! phase of the creative process always seems so full of life, but the rest of the process always boils down to just getting it done.

Just remember that you don’t have to make a proclamation to the world that you’re working on a new idea. You don’t have to set a ship schedule. You can just work it out until it’s worked out. Some of the most prolific creatives I know are continually surprising us with something they’ve been working on behind the scenes, and we hold them in higher regard for it because they ship more than they promise.

On the face of it, it seems that this “get it out of your system” counsel flies against what I said last week about why you shouldn’t do just one more project. Last week’s post handled those “little” projects that can be waited out or resisted, whereas this one covers those ideas that you just can’t shake.

So, over to you: what creative Sirens are calling you? Are there any that you just need to get out of your system? If so, what’s your starting point?

Originally published at


  • Charlie Gilkey

    Author, Speaker, Business Strategist, Coach

    Charlie Gilkey helps people start finish the stuff that matters. He's the founder of Productive Flourishing, author of the forthcoming Start Finishing and The Small Business Lifecycle, and host of the Productive Flourishing podcast. Prior to starting Productive Flourishing, Charlie was a Joint Force Military Logistics Coordinator while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Philosophy. He lives with his wife, Angela, in Portland, Oregon.