One of the things I love doing in my work is dreaming up fun and creative ideas. Whether they’re on Social Media, Video or other platforms, I just love dreaming, brainstorming and asking “What if we did this?”
Even working back at my previous jobs, the creative process and coming up with fun and unique experiences is what I loved the most.
The whiteboard and brainstorming sessions are the most fun part, but the actual executing is where things become a lot more difficult. It’s where the fun starts to fade and the reality of what you have to do hits, and it starts to feel like a grind.
I have identified 5 problems that get in the way of executing a creative idea after you’ve come up with it. If you want to avoid roadblocks and potential setbacks when creating and executing creative ideas, read on!
1. Being Too Vague
Too often, when you have a creative idea, you tend to be unclear about the idea itself. There is a sense of vagueness surrounding the entire project. You may find yourself using abstract terms and not really nailing down the specifics about what the project will look like, feel like or how exactly it will be executed.
This creates a problem, especially when working on a team because not everyone has a clear idea of what they’re doing. Or, everyone has different ideas on how to implement the idea, so everything is all over the place.
How you can combat this is this: once you have your creative idea in mind, find as much sample work of similar projects as possible. Search the internet to find ideas similar to what you have in mind and pool them together in one place whether it be on Pinterest, in Evernote or whatever tool you like to use that you can also share with your team.
Be sure to include sample videos, illustrations, graphics and visuals that are close to what you want to accomplish with your project. It’s almost like creating a mood or a style board for your project. This will give yourself and your team the idea that there is a specific end result that you are going for.
Creating a repository of sample ideas and projects gives your project parameters for what you are and aren’t going for. This is really important because you want to make sure your team is all on the same page, and ensure that they aren’t all working on different implementations of the project or idea.
Creating guidelines for your project or idea will ensure that you and your team are clear on how it should be created and executed.
2. Being Too Precise
On the opposite end of being too vague, it is possible to be too precise and rigid about your project idea. This is the result of planning everything down to the crossing of the T’s and dotting of the I’s and you don’t allow yourself time to pivot or adapt when things change at the last second.
This is something that happens all the time in the video world, for example. Say you’re about to shoot a video, and something breaks or someone doesn’t show up. If you’re too rigid in your planning, you won’t be prepared for these last-minute situations and you won’t be able to adapt as easily to these scenarios. This can result in an end result that isn’t anything close to what you had in mind.
Be sure to give yourself enough wiggle room when planning a project to be able to dream up something new in the moment, or let serendipity play out. Part of the creative process is being adaptable to unforeseen changes in circumstance and being able to accept that and go with the flow to create an amazing end result.
3. Not Having a Clear Understanding of Form versus Function
When you don’t have a clear understanding of form versus function, you may have a situation like this: You have a wonderfully creative idea or project. It’s aesthetically beautiful, everything is in the right place and it just looks and sounds amazing! You’ve spent so much time on the look and the feel of the project that you’ve forgotten what outcome you want the project to produce in the first place.
In other words, let’s say the project is a video. You want this video to get people really excited about an event. The video looks and sounds great, but you spent so much time on the presentation that you forgot to add a call to action. You don’t ask the audience to RSVP or sign up and you miss the key point of the videos purpose entirely. But it looks great!
This is a prime example of not understanding form versus function. It has a great form, but it doesn’t function. This can also happen the other way around: your project does what it’s supposed to do, but aesthetically it’s just not that great or doesn’t really fit.
This problem can often be attributed to being too rigid in planning – obsessing so much over the details of the aesthetics that you don’t allow room for the project to do what it was intended to do in the first place.
4. No Clear Understanding of What Done Looks Like
It’s one thing to have an idea planned out, but if you don’t have an idea of what it will look like when it is done then you will continue to tweak it over and over again until it’s overdone. This is akin to overcooking a meal – perhaps it’s a meal you’ve never cooked before and you cook it just a little too long because you are unfamiliar of what it looks like when it’s finished.
This can be attributed to perfectionism or just not having a clear idea of the finished project. To overcome this problem, it can be helpful to have a 3rd party to tell you when enough is enough and that the project is finished.
In other cases, setting a tight deadline for yourself and your team will ensure you don’t overcook your project because you can’t keep tweaking and pushing the deadline out further.
When planning and brainstorming your project, having an idea of what it will look like when it’s finished will ensure that you and your team are on the same page so everyone understands when it gets to a certain point, it’s finished. Otherwise, you could spend forever tweaking the minor details!
5. Ignoring The Context in which Your Creative Idea Is Going to be Used
This is something I see a lot when people are executing a creative idea on stage or on paper, and one that has happened to me before! What can happen is the design piece looks great but you don’t really think through where and how it will be used.
For example, this is from personal experience with a video we created. It had a joke and a punchline, but it was never really planned out where this video was going to be used in the Worship service. The video and the idea itself could have worked really well, but when it is played in the wrong part of the Worship service it can totally change the mood, the music, the message and a host of other factors because we failed to identify exactly when, where and how the video would be implemented.
When you fail to identify the context in which your creative idea will be used, the entire idea or project can fall flat, even if it was really great! It has to be implemented properly and at the right time.
This could happen with artwork as well. Say you created this amazing piece of artwork that was so beautiful and you spent a lot of time designing it. When you go to have it printed, you realize that the place where it should go is vertical, but you designed the entire thing horizontally. Your design is wonderful, but it just doesn’t work. All of a sudden you have to rearrange everything because your idea was great but you weren’t clear on the implementation.
This can go back to point number 4 – when you have a clear understanding of what done looks like, you should also have a clear understanding of the context in which it will be used and the implementation of your project.
To summarize these 5 points: don’t be too vague with your creative ideas! Brainstorming ideas and projects is fun, but to actually implement with success make sure that you get clarity in your project by sourcing inspiration from similar ideas.
In the same breath, don’t be so rigid and precise with this planning that you and your team cannot adapt to changes. Leave room for Spirit to move and for you to be able to create things as you see them appear before you.
Understand form versus function so that you know not only how you want your project to look, but the end result you want to create as well. Don’t make the mistake of spending too much time on the aesthetics that you forget to include the call to action or outcome you want it to create.
Be sure that you have a clear idea of what done looks like for what you’re trying to accomplish. Know when you’ve reached the end of a project and don’t allow perfectionism to extend the deadlines or continue tweaking what is already finished.
Finally, remember to keep in mind the context of exactly when, where and how this project should be or will be implemented. Keep this in mind to make sure everything flows properly and achieves the outcomes you are wanting to create and inspire.