There’s something about organizing your ideas, gathering them together into lists and outlines and structures and hierarchies, that is absolutely fantastic. That left-brain prep before the right-brain party, like Data ticking through the checklist before Picard says “Engage,” just cannot be beat.
Except, you know, by all the parts that come after. Those are awesome too.
Really, the whole process is just tops. It’s the bee’s knees, the cat’s meow. The cream in my coffee at the start of my day.
It’s the central experience around which I’ve built my life.
My father once told me about his todo list at work, a Sisyphean battle that was characterized by a peculiar cycle. He would make a list of the most important things he had to do, but he was so busy that it would quickly become a cumbersome mess. So he’d start bolding the really important items, but soon everything would be bold. Then he’d start highlighting the really really important stuff, but soon he’d have three pages solidly highlighted. So he’d start underlining the really, really SUPER-important stuff… and so on.
That’s kind of how I feel about sorting through my ideas, except that the whole experience is dipped in liquid awesome. It’s like walking through a toy store where everything is free. Do I want to revisit this world of adventure and romance? Or maybe explore this quest of personal redemption? Get into the head of this deliciously evil villain, or play around with this weirdly abstract way of telling a familiar tale?
Movies and books and websites and apps, scripts and shorts and products and plays. Comedies, dramas, mysteries, adventures; glorious romances and unspeakable catastrophes. Sometimes I’m tempted just to spend all day skipping from one to the other, flipping channels like a patriarch with a TV remote, sampling each in turn but never settling on just one.
Sometimes I give in to that temptation.
But then I remember: the trailer isn’t the best part, even if it seems that way at first. The full movie is even better. And so I buckle down and make the hard choices: scripts before novels this time, websites before apps. Three weeks for prose, then two for code. This script before that one, because that third act still needs work, but knock this one out fully before moving on, because the day will never come that there isn’t another cool idea waiting further down the list. If you ever plan to finish, it has to be now.
Done. Check. Scratch it off, bump them up. What was next? Oh yeah! Love that one, starting now.
I’m quivering with anticipation, a greyhound at the gate, waiting for the left brain to finish so the right brain can run. The list is important, but oh what a bother! So many options, so many interests, so many stories and worlds and experiences and characters all clamoring to exist at once.
The only question left to answer is…
What do I work on first?