6 things every creative must know about follow through

Follow through, this is the bane of most creatives existence.

They come up with great ideas, but those ideas are never executed, and they never see the light of day. 

Records that were never released.
Books that were never published.
Films that were never finished.

To be honest, this lack of follow through is a tragedy. Some of the most creative individuals I know are failing to follow through on their best work.

My goal with this post is to share 6 concepts that every creative needs to know about follow through.

1. It isn’t about the idea, it's about the execution

You can be the most creative person in the world, full of ideas, but ideas aren’t worth anything. 

It is about the execution of those ideas.

It is about turning those ideas into reality. 

Check out 99u, it is an entire website based off the famous quote by Thomas Edison "Genius, 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration." 99u is focused on the 99 percent.

2. Commitment means finishing what you started, even after the initial excitement has worn off

As a creative it is easy to get excited about ideas and jump from project to project. 

We find joy and thrill in diving in and starting something new, yet lose interest as soon as the project becomes difficult.

The truth is any project worth doing isn’t going to be all easy. There will be hard parts that we must get past.

If you start something, finish it.

Or as my Dad used to say ‘Don’t half-ass it’

3. Set deadlines and stick to them

Photo courtesy of StartupPhotos via Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of StartupPhotos via Creative Commons

You probably have deadlines in your job or freelance career. A client needs a project done by this date, and you do it.

Yet in our personal work, we pour hours, weeks, months or even years into a project and never finish it, or simply forget about it.

You must set a deadline for your own creative work, and stick to that deadline no matter what. 

It forces you to ship the project and get it done. 

4.  Don’t be a perfectionist, just ship it

Perfectionism can be a great quality in some areas, but it can be a curse to the creative.

There is always more you can do, and you can always improve and make it better. 

But at some point you just have to ship it.

Seth Godin has written 17 books, he admits himself that some of them aren’t that good. But he shipped them. He had an idea, he followed through and he got it out in the world.

It is only through shipping his bad ideas and learning from them that he was able to go on to publish other best sellers.

Even if your project isn’t a success, shipping it will teach you more than keeping it behind closed doors ever will.

5. Tackle one or two big projects at a time, no more

Sit down and write down every project you are working on right now. Right down everything from both your professional and personal life.

Once you have this list, ask yourself : Can you realistically handle all of these projects at once?

It can be possible to balance a few projects at once if their deadlines are spread out over time, but not several.

Focus your time and energy down to a few key projects and set deadlines for them.

Put the rest on the back burner. If a project is worth doing, it will still be worth doing three months from now.

6. Create a 'Someday / Maybe' list

This may be one of the greatest concepts that changed my creative career.

A 'Someday / Maybe' list is just what it sounds like. It is a list of things which you will do someday, maybe.

The point of this list is to keep a single place to store ideas that pop into your head.

Is there a project you want to work on?
A new business idea?
A book you want to read?
A skill you want to learn?

When these ideas pop into your head, write them down on the 'someday / maybe' list, and then forget about them. 

The point of this list is to give you an outlet for your ideas and keep you focused on the projects at hand. 

Try out a 'Someday / Maybe' list for just one month. You will be amazed at how many ideas seem brilliant at the moment, but they completely suck when you read them 30 days later. 

Amidst all of the bad ideas, there will be a few gold nuggets, and those ideas that withstand the test of time can become your next focus project. 


Don’t fall victim to creative ADD. 

Stay focused on your projects, follow through and make them a reality.

I am writing a book on the subject of focus right now. It is called The Focused Creator.

It will be released on March 25th, if you sign up today you will receive a free copy on launch date.

Learn to focus, follow through and achieve your goals. Sign up to receive a free copy of The Focused Creator