Stop Dreaming and Start Creating

binoculars cinemagraph

Creative people have a tendency to be dreamers. We can get lost for hours letting our brains drift off into endless possibilities. Sometimes though, we can become lost in the dream and forget to ever take action.

I imagine it to be something like standing on top of a skyscraper overlooking an enormous city. Nobody up there but you and your thoughts. The skyline sings with endless possibilities. The rhythmic song of activity rises from the city below. It’s beautiful up there. Just you and your thoughts. So much potential.

One might be tempted to stay a while, to take out a quarter, stick it into the high-powered binoculars and search endlessly letting their imagination run wild.

new york city cinemagraph

It can also be paralyzing. So much potential, so many opportunities, how could you possibly focus on just one. If you stop to focus, you might miss out on an even bigger picture!

Then the questions creep in…

  • What if you fail?
  • What if you succeed?
  • Can you handle it?
  • Are you ready for it?

Too much dreaming and too little action will eventually poison your dreams and sabotage your creativity.

When you dream big and let your mind soar over the cityscape high above the streets of possibilities you nourish the creative fibers. When you don’t take action it’s like the onset of creative obesity. You begin to get bogged down by ideas seeing none of them come to fruition. Your confidence begins to shake under the weight of stored brilliance, solidifying into fatty masses around your creative muscles. It becomes harder and harder to move.

Stop dreaming, start creating.

Take action now. When you’ve made your visit to the creative ledge and let you mind soar it’s time to put your ideas into action. You must leave your balcony of artistry and hit the pavement of productivity.

Do something to turn that creative juice into tangible progress.

Your will gain confidence with every piece you put together. Each step bringing more momentum propelling you forward faster. When you’ve finally brought the idea into full bloom, seeing the fruits of your creative seeds, there is little that will be more rewarding.

Then you can return to your balcony to dream another dream. The confidence you’ve just acquired will give you the boost you need to exceed even your dreamiest of dreams.

Have you, like myself, been guilty of overindulging in dreaming with not enough action?

[Photos via Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg]

Dustin W. Stout Avatar

34 responses to “Stop Dreaming and Start Creating”

  1. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    I know what you mean. Organization was one of my weaknesses but thanks to my wife (organizing is her super-power) I have gotten much better. It’s something we creatives have to intentionally work on.

  2. Ahtesham Avatar

    I have been in this state multiple times, but the issue for me is not about “inability” to take action, its more about taking unorganized movements and creating a mess with both time and the resources eventually leading to sapping out all my passion for that work. I need to work on my “Will power” to organised my actions and channeling them in the right direction! Anyways, good blog!

  3. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Awesome Sneha! What are you going to create next?

  4. Sneha Avatar

    Oh yes! Many times and now I am determined to create more and dream less 🙂 Hopefully, I will stick to it.

    Great post 🙂

  5. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Thanks for adding to the conversation Isha!

  6. Isha Avatar

    Hi , I could connect a lot with your article when I read it. During my school days I excelled in everything literature , science , math you name it , and yea I was a big time dreamer:-) ………so I couldnt really decide on which career path to choose and had to take a course that my father had suggested . I would like to add that although we all dream abt the most creative stuff …….play your strength…..that will make you feel more worthy :-)……

  7. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    I’m so glad you found this article Brent! Thanks for stopping by! What’s one dream you’re going to take action on today?

  8. Brent Seamons Avatar
    Brent Seamons

    Dustin, great article! I found it by way of Peg Fitzpatrick’s post on Google+ today.

    It’s kind of “funny” how things work out. I was just sitting at my computer this morning dreaming about all the ideas that I have and then started feeling that overwhelming feeling of overindulging in dreaming…then I happened upon your article.

    It’s such a great feeling to see your own creative work come to fruition, yet it’s so easy to let it get buried by the dreaming up of other ideas.

    Sounds like I need to stop dreaming and start focusing!

    Thanks, Dustin!

  9. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    I’m can relate Erin. I have those seemingly alternate personalities– one wants to jump outside the box and roam free, while the other side wants to keep things in order and efficient. The creative side always wins out though. 😀

  10. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Thanks for sharing Jose! The Graphic Designer’s journey is one of continuous growth– keep at it! And keep praying for God’s favor in giving you more in which to glorify him with.

  11. Erin Feldman Avatar

    I love ideas, but I love taking action on them, too. I think it’s my creative side meeting the organized side. I have had to get better at taking action; I used to have think a lot longer before taking action or get feedback from someone. Now I just make a plan and go with it as far as it will go.

  12. Jose N Avatar
    Jose N

    Good morning Dustin(5:18am)
    I really enjoyed this article and your analogies. I can totally relate. I started out last year on this (Graphic Designer) journey, and , so many things have caught my eye that make my focus turn in a different direction. It can be pretty scary when you don’t have a main plan. This year though, I made the decision to be more of a front-end developer and designer. Although I enjoy the many tools for art and illustration I really want to get the code down and make that my career. Put hands and feet to my prayers, you know?
    Well thanks for you cool perspective and drive…Grace and Peace!

  13. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    That’s awesome Dan! Thanks for commenting!

    I think the cycle goes: dream, create, appreciate, repeat. At least that’s how I see it!

  14. Dan Erickson Avatar
    Dan Erickson

    I’m a dreamer. I’m idealistic. But I’ve leraned over the years to create, get things done. I’ve written hundreds of songs, poems, and now I’m working on a second book. But we still need to dream to. That dreaming time led to the creation.

  15. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    I’m glad you stopped by Jeremy! And thanks for the compliments! You should check out my blog design series (way overdue for the next installment)– there is a post in there about typography that might be very helpful!

  16. Jeremy Avatar

    I’m in the midst of this struggle right now! I’m trying to decide if I have the talent, energy, and skill to start freelancing on a more full-time basis. This is a good motivator to stop thinking so much about the possibilities and get to WORK on it.

    BTW, I LOVE the type used on your site! I will now take action on my own to make my text a little bigger/bolder. #bloggingarmy

  17. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Awesome Chris! I can’t wait to see the final product. Do you have a goal for when you want to finish it?

  18. Chris Jennings Penders Avatar

    Hi Dustin:
    Love the new “Blogging Army” thing at G+. So glad I discovered it via you. Excellent column here and it spurs me forward. Working on a book from one category at my blog. I’m disciplined enough to do a little each day. And your column here has pushed me to work all the smarter on it.

    So thanks!


  19. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Haha! That’s one reason I love Google+ so much– you can edit everything after you post it!

  20. Andrew Zahn Avatar

    Erg! No way to edit a comment! It’s forever a to to!!!

  21. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Yes indeed! If you follow the credit link at the bottom of the post you will see more from the same photographer due– they’re stunning!

  22. Joseph Lalonde Avatar

    I had not seen cinemagraphs before. Did a quick Google search and they’re fascinating.

  23. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    That’s good for at least 2 tweets, or one quotable Google+ post. 😉

  24. Tim Avatar

    Great post Dustin! Love this….”Take action now. When you’ve made your visit to the creative ledge and let you mind soar it’s time to put your ideas into action. You must leave your balcony of artistry and hit the pavement of productivity.”

  25. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Questions are good, but never let them distance you from the goal. Instead let them direct you towards it.

    My best advice would be to do something every day, no matter how little, to lead you towards your goal. Even if it’s writing down one new menu item idea– just do something. The daily activity will build your confidence and keep your mind on track towards your goal!

  26. Emily Spada Avatar
    Emily Spada

    I’m a little guilty of this. It took my mother and I a long time to sit down with a financial advisor and open investment accounts to start saving for the cafe we want to eventually open. It’s been my dream to own and run a business, and I hope that it eventually comes to fruition. I’ve had all those questions running through my head for months.

  27. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Haha! Thanks Joe! Have you seen cinemagraphs before?

  28. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Thanks Andrew! Though I’m not sure how to-to’s help, I think what you’re doing is so important! 😉

  29. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    We’re all guilty to some extent– glad you’re able to discipline it! Is there a specific timeline you give yourself or is it more of an instinctual process?

  30. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Thanks Chris! I love Seth Godin’s take on this– I don’t remember when I read that, but thanks for the reminder!

    And yes, I knew the imagery would compliment my theme well. It’s part of my whole visual strategy. The internet is becoming a much more visual place– as if it wasn’t already.

  31. Joseph Lalonde Avatar

    Gotta say I love the images you used. They’re beautiful and elegant yet creepy. And that’s meant as a compliment.

  32. Andrew Zahn Avatar

    I’m 20% dreamer, 80% way-too-intense-get-it-done-er.

    I need to dream a wee bit more at times, but man, I get so very frustrated by the potential of my fellow artist/dreamers. I want them to share what they’re dreaming and put feet and muscle to those dreams!

    It’s part of why I blog: to encourage those dreams to to make it happen. That’s why I loved this post! I know it will encourage others.

  33. Jason Vana Avatar

    I have been guilty of over dreaming once in a while, but I am a take action kind of guy, so over dreaming never really lasts long. I dream big, but I’m always taking steps towards those dreams. Otherwise, I put those dreams on the shelf and start dreaming something different that I’m passionate about to start doing.

  34. Chris Wilson Avatar

    I don’t know why Dustin but your new theme really seemed to come together perfectly for this post. I love the new subheadings (which I’ve only just noticed the style format).

    It’s so true that too much can be paralysing. I remember hearing the phrase when it comes to buying a product, if there are a million options which are all similar and priced just a bit different…how on earth can you choose! That’s when someone like Apple comes along and has a simple pricing structure (with lots of possible add ons) and loads of people jump for it.

    I love the model that Seth Godin presents in Linchpin.
    Thrash out ideas -get other peoples input
    Stop thrashing and go for it. (set a time limit on the thrashing stage)
    Don’t get swayed at the end, just finish.

    If you really invest good time at the start making sure you’ve considered all the option then you won’t worry later on that it isn’t good but if you haven’t then maybe there is something you haven’t considered and it can sway you off course “Back to the drawing board”.

    God bless brother.

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