Creativity starts with an idea. Generally speaking ideas are very good but not very useful until they are put into practice. Get something on paper. Make a model. In other words just shut up and build something.

There are 2 general schools of thought on how this works. The old way is what some designers and engineers call the General Motors Method. The old GM method involved rendering every last design detail into some hard form before anything was built. Every last car part from pushrods to the seat coverings were first committed to paper, analyzed, and endlessly revised before the go-ahead was given to build a single car. Factory space would then have to be allocated and manufacturing lines designed and built. This serial process was lengthy and a design cycle for a single automobile model might have spanned 3 – 5 years. This method was also very expensive since start up capital is immediately impacted by the time value of money which is in turn compounded by longer timelines for getting the product to market.

Competition in this era and the immediacy of ‘now’ have constrained access to capital as well as sped up tool development that has heightened the awareness that everything from patent applications to funding to time-to-market is time sensitive.

A more modern design system called rapid prototyping is the method by which the engineer takes his design idea and quickly creates a model, however imperfect. There was a saying among test engineers that you ‘didn’t do it unless you wrote it down’. And the notion that you ‘can’t fix what you can’t see’ is appropriate from everything from writing a script to building a jet fighter.

There are lots of people who want to write a novel but fewer who actually do. Sitting in front of a computer after hacking out a few pages can make the undisciplined scream once they realize the enormity of the task that lies ahead. But in the immortal words of Ovid who suggested if you ‘Add a little to a little there shall soon be a big pile’ implies that persistence wins the day. Build it. Put something on paper. Get started. Then stick with it. Permit anything for the first model; don’t throw anything out. Sometimes the soul of the design that you are trying to coax into life lies in one of the seemingly unimportant details. Follow the direction of your characters if you are writing that novel. Let the protagonist lead until his image becomes unclear then pick up with his antagonist and see where that goes.

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