Grit_Web1Every idea I ever had was brilliant. Until I started working on it.

This has been a year of developing and launching projects, and it’s taught me something profound about creativity.

Until an idea sees the light of day, it’s perfect. There is nothing more successful than an unborn dream. As long as it hasn’t yet been exposed to the harsh light of day, to the laws of gravity, and to the comparisons and critiques that await it, it’s flawless.

And this is a very good reason not to venture forth, not to attempt that lifelong dream, whether it’s a creative project, political action, new business, or new book. Because once you embark on making your life-long dream a reality, your dream dies. Dreams get dinged and dented in the birth process.

For me, it happens every time I write, or start a new project. The snap, crackle and pop of neural activity is a lot easier and more fun than the hard slog of expressing it, breaking it down, and making the to-do steps.

But the worst part is that my dream is now another chore. My brilliant idea is now just to-do list of call this person, edit that copy, go to that meeting, make that flyer, and revise that proposal.

We talk about creativity as an “Aha” moment, the Big Bang or breakthrough. We see it as a moment, as an event, or even an outcome. But the Aha is the spark that lights the fire that gets us moving. Dreams dazzle and inspire. But creation is what happens after the insight. Creativity isn’t dazzling. It’s an endless process of iteration, of start, sputter, revise, and start again. Creativity is evolution, and it takes millions of years. And we’ve only got about 50, if we’re lucky.

Creativity takes grit. Grit to not lose faith when your ideas hit the wall. Grit to keep going when it’s not sexy yet, when people doubt it, when the feedback is just ‘meh.’

It’s funny. This summer has taught me that the easy part is embracing your dreams. The hard part is letting them die, and embracing the grit of reality.