Publication Details and Purchasing Information

The Big Thing

How to Complete Your Creative Project Even if You’re a Lazy, Self-Doubting Procrastinator Like Me

Product Description and Author Information

About the Book

Phyllis Korkki, a New York Times journalist, explains why it’s important for people to pursue big creative projects and identifies both the obstacles and the productive habits that emerge on the path to completion—including those she experienced writing this book.

Whether it’s the Great American Novel or a groundbreaking new app, many people want to create a Big Thing, but finding the motivation to get started, let alone complete the work, can be daunting. In The Big Thing, New York Times business writer and editor Phyllis Korkki combines real-life stories, science, and insights from her own experience to illuminate the factors that drive people to complete big creative projects—and the obstacles that threaten to derail success.

While discussing her own Big Thing—the book you’re holding now—Korkki explores the individual and collaborative endeavors of others: from memoirs, art installations, and musical works to theater productions, small businesses, and charities. She identifies the main aspects of a Big Thing, including meaningful goals, focus and effort, the difficulties posed by the demands of everyday life, and the high risk of failure and disappointment. Korkki also breaks down components of the creative process and the characteristics that define it, and offers her thoughts on avoiding procrastination, staying motivated, scheduling a routine, and overcoming self-doubt and the restrictions of a day job.

With a refreshing dose of honesty, The Big Thing doesn’t minimize the negative side of such pursuits—including the fact that big projects are hard to complete and raise difficult questions about one’s self-worth. While many books on the subject of creativity are earnest manuals that make the process sound fun and easy, so long as you follow the rules, The Big Thing is a welcome antidote—never sugarcoating the experience or reducing it to simplistic principles, but offering practical insights anyone can use to get started on their own creative project.

Inspiring, wise, humorous, and good-natured, The Big Thing is a meditation on the importance of self-expression and purpose.

About the Author

Phyllis Korkki

Phyllis Korkki is an assignment editor and reporter for the New York Times Sunday Business section.


“A candid look at why we keep our foot on the brakes with our most important ideas-and how to convince ourselves to step on the gas.” —Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take

[Korkki’s] thoroughly researched stories, intriguing interviews, and self-deprecating style create a fun, thought-provoking read. If you enjoy good journalism and want to create a big thing of your own, read this book. Booklist

“A deeply practical guide to doing something that will last long after you’re gone, The Big Thing is loaded with tips, stories, and research. If you have something important to share with the world, The Big Thing will inspire you to get it done.” —Tom Rath, Author of the New York Times Bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0

“So many people end up making a millimeter progress in a million directions instead of bringing forth the masterpiece that is within them. In The Big Thing Phyllis Korkki shares a personal treatise into why we struggle in this way--and, importantly, what we can do about it.” —Greg McKeown, New York Times bestselling author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

“This is a profound book, suffused with insight into the creative process and empathy for the chronically blocked and uncertain among us. Essential reading for anyone who has struggled to make progress on a cherished personal project.” —Mason Currey, author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work