How BJ Novak Separates the Idea Phase and the Execution Phase
After the writing process he learned and developed working on the Office, comedian, screenwriter and director BJ Novak also shared about how he creates a distinction between Ideas and Executions, to ensure that the two process don’t overlap and freeze each other:
How BJ Novak Handles the Idea Phase vs. the Execution Phase
“I carry around a notebook, and if I don’t have a little notebook I have my phone, but I really divide my creative work into two distinct phases, which is the idea phase, and the execution phase. And I do not let either interrupt the other.
So if i’m taking a walk or having a drink with a friend and just some funny idea comes out, something that makes me smile or some other impulse, I write it down, and I never judge ‘Well, what would you do with this idea’, or ‘How would you end that joke’.
I just have this notebook and I feel like the richest man in the world in terms of ideas, just fill it up, feel great, never question it.
Then on a separate day I sit down, 9 or 10 am, with a big cup of coffee at my desk, go through the notebook, and I do my best with every idea in the book. So I’m never intimidating.
To me everything is idea and execution, and if you separate idea and execution, you don’t put too much pressure on either of them.”
As a notebook carrier myself, who has recently developed a similar technique, I loved that Novak could phrase it so clearly and simply. It reminds me of Woody Allen‘s system of centralising all his ideas in a drawer that he opens up each time he needs to write a new screenplay (all the time basically).