Creation and Implementation: Two Distinct Stages of the Process

Sometimes you gotta spend most of your time writing, and some times you gotta spend most of your time doing all the stuff that surrounds it.  This is something all creatives (do we like calling us that? I can't decide) struggle with at times.  And I believe if you can master the art of separating the two, you'll have a lot more success.   Desi-question-mark-817928-l

Or at least be happier.

I'm talking about the acts of creation and implementation.  

They are two distinct stages of the creative process, and need to be treated as such.  And yet, we–myself included–tend to muck them up and mix them up and try to do them at the same time and that just doesn't work.

Creation.  I think of creation as anything related to the actual act of putting words on the page, like:

  • Writing
  • Writing exercises
  • Editing
  • Journaling
  • Brainstorming

Implementation is anything related to the act of getting your work out in the world, such as:

  • Researching publication
  • Querying agents or editors
  • Proof-reading
  • Formatting a manuscript for publication
  • Promotion and author platform

You may not even realize you are mixing up the two.  You might find yourself spending long hours on researching potential agents before your novel is completed, for instance, or learning everything there is to know about self-publishing before you've written a single word.  Or you might find yourself adding words to a short story even after you've decreed it finished and are in the process of sending it out.

The thing is, you need to make time for each aspect. At different stages, one will take precedence over the other.  When you've polished your novel, for instance, and are ready for it to take the world by storm, you'll either begin that agent search or start the self-publishing process, and you'll likely spend more time doing this than actual writing.  Or when first you begin a blog, you'll spend a lot of time setting it up and not quite so much writing blog posts.

Ultimately, however, if you're not spending most of your time in creation, then you're not going to have anything worth implementing.  I know this is obvious, but in our crazy social media, information-obsessed world, its easy to convince yourself that its more important to write a Facebook post than get a few more hundred words ranked up on the novel.

So here's my simple rule:

Creation, first, implementation second.

If you live by it, you'll be a happy creative.

Discussion?  How do you get sidelined in the creation versus implementation teeter-totter? 


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18 Responses to Creation and Implementation: Two Distinct Stages of the Process

  1. D young 06/26/2014 at 04:51 #

    “Creatives”…I like the reference. While I do write some, I wouldn’t call myself a writer. Creative- most definitely.

    Good post. As us creatives can be, we sometimes but carts before horses and forget the simple steps it takes to achieve more efficiently.

  2. J.D. 06/26/2014 at 04:53 #

    This is when my jealousy of Amanda Moon goes into a roiling boil that makes Macbeth’s witches seem like they were making tepid tea. She did her first draft in 21 days! She couldn’t have taken five minutes to decide the design of her promotional bookmark or it wanted to do Kindle Select. I throw up my hands. What happened to that other me who could spin a thousand plates? Not sure he ever existed lol. I think your advice to create first is dead on. Allow me to add it is easy to become paralyzed with the enormity of it all. And one more thing: Wouldn’t it be great if we enjoyed this.

  3. D young 06/26/2014 at 05:18 #

    You don’t enjoy writing? Is it the technicality of it that frustrates? The administrative process that has been recently explained here? Because most times, the writing part is the most enjoyable. That is if you can keep your mind off the process. It’s a double edged sword I guess. For me, writing is necessary. Like running. When I’m in the thick of it- I feel good. Even get lazed a bit when I don’t have a goal in mind. Then I fall back- off the wagon you might say- and I’m worse for it. To me, writing and running are almost synonymous….necessary means of therapy.

  4. J.D. 06/26/2014 at 05:38 #

    I enjoy the writing. All the stuff in that second list is like a flu shot. I know it’s good for me, but ….

  5. J.D. 06/26/2014 at 06:50 #

    I spoke too quickly, like I’m too defensive. When I’m lost in the writing it’s better than whatever you want to name. But I have trouble starting; I have trouble keeping it going; I get stuck. Like everyone, I long for a project I can lose myself in for days. All of them start like that in my head. All of them are thrilling, incredibly entertaining until I start hitting the keys. Enjoy or not, it has me in its grip. I’m just hoping to turn the table. The joy day.

  6. Charlotte Dixon 06/26/2014 at 07:29 #

    Okay, good, I’m glad you like it and that you answered my question. And that you are comfortable calling yourself a creative. Though, I’m pretty sure you can claim the title of writer as well….

  7. Charlotte Dixon 06/26/2014 at 07:31 #

    Yeah, one thing I’ve learned about myself is that implementation takes me forever. It just does. For instance, I have ideas about how to rearrange this blog, but have I done it? Obviously not. I will use the excuse that the writing is more important and I hope you agree!

    And for some reason this comment got attached to the wrong J.D. comment but you guys will figure out what I’m talking about, right?

  8. Charlotte Dixon 06/26/2014 at 07:32 #

    J.D. and D, I love that you guys often have deep discussions in the comments section!

  9. J.D. 06/26/2014 at 07:49 #

    I like the word implement much more than implementation.

  10. J.D. 06/26/2014 at 08:33 #

    The noun not the verb;-)

  11. Charlotte Dixon 06/26/2014 at 10:19 #

    Gotcha. Implement sounds more like a tool–maybe that’s why?

  12. Charlotte Dixon 06/26/2014 at 10:20 #

    That’s such a great insight, Sue–we resist creative work because it is ambiguous and uncertain. And implementation is task-oriented and practical–much easier to convince ourselves to do.

  13. Sue Mitchell 06/26/2014 at 08:21 #

    Hi, Charlotte! You make an excellent point here. We humans tend to resist creative work because it is ambiguous and uncertain. It’s so easy to be seduced into thinking you’re moving forward on your creative work by putzing with your website or interacting on social media because those activities provide immediate gratification and are much more cut-and-dry. Your rule serves as a simple reminder of that — love it!

  14. D young 06/27/2014 at 05:22 #

    Well thank you. That is a lofty title. In my opinion anyway. Not one I’m sure I deserve…but I’ll take it! From you, it’s an even bigger compliment.

    I get what JD means about getting yourself lost in your writing for days. A writer friend of mine finds herself in these “predicaments”. She holes herself up in her writing office until something productive flows, then she can’t even leave for potty breaks when the words seem to float directly from her heart and mind, onto paper.

    And, as you all have probably noticed about me, any editor would be working triple shifts correcting my grammar and punctuation. Creative? Yes. Technical? Heh. That’s why implementing that second list might be too traumatic!:)

  15. D young 06/27/2014 at 05:24 #

    Your blog is a good stopping place for me in the mornings. Deep conversation here is enjoyable. Don’t rearrange a thing:)

  16. Charlotte Dixon 06/27/2014 at 06:25 #

    I’ll tell you a little secret D, as far as I’m concerned grammar and punctuation are secondary. Not don’t tell anyone I said that, but its true. Because it’s important, that’s for sure, but it can be fixed. What can’t usually be fixed is a lack of voice and style and uniqueness. Also, I think getting lost in my writing is a bigger fear for me than anything because I’ve had it happen and its almost scary. Wonderful scary!

  17. D young 06/27/2014 at 19:30 #

    I wish we could “like” posts here:) great conversation everyone!

  18. Charlotte Dixon 06/28/2014 at 06:35 #

    I always say that the really good stuff happens in the comments!

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