Creative Barriers: Finishing (Part 5)

Finishing might be the most challenging stage in the creative process. Not because starting or continuing isn’t difficult (they are) but they’re a walk in the virtual park compared to finishing.

It’s easier to start something than end it.

That’s true with creativity and life in general.

Finishing has stakes. As Seth Godin writes, when you shipping your work, there’s a big chance that it won’t succeed.

Anyone can start (with enthusiasm) a new idea, very few can finish the idea and make it a reality.

The problem is, as time goes on, the works finish line starts to get fuzzy. Feature creep pops up. Not to mention perfection shows up at the party and tries to take over.

Suddenly a solid deadline disappears into the fog of inflated desires and expectations.

As they say in software development—Ship early, ship often. There’s a reason why we set deadlines—to give ourselves the initiative to finish what we start. Otherwise, we’d be tweaking, improving, changing, and adding things ad infinite.

Failure is another big reason why it’s hard to finish things. What if we do all this work and nobody cares? What if we launch our product and it belly-flops?

It’s true that your work might not work. But what does that mean, exactly? A boat-load of money? A nod of approval from your parents? Acclaim and party invites?

If you’re creating something just for the rewards, then you might not be spending your time on the right thing. There’s got to be more than money and fame driving you.

The best part about creativity isn’t the end goal, but the process to get there. Hard work and fun aren’t mutually exclusive. Plenty of people work incredibly hard and have a hell of a fun time doing it too. What’s that look like for you?

And if it fails, it fails. Did you give it you’re all? Did you make the best decisions you could with the information you had? Did you seek out counsel and listen to your gut? Then if it still failed, it wasn’t the right time or the right place.

Part of finishing is knowing when to close an idea and move on to the next thing. That includes moving on from failures and successes.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1127

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Just Finish

“It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.” — J. R. R. Tolkien

My head is pounding. It’s been a long day, although it doesn’t feel like I did much. Some days are like that—you make progress, but it’s a small accomplishment in a sea of todo’s and planning towards a long-term goal. But it still counts. The day still adds up to something.

I probably overdid it today (as per usual 🙂 I started learning Wim Hoff breathing, Dual-n-Back training, Procreate illustration courses on SkillShare, and started learning Japanese. (Learning Brag?) Normally I’d only start one new habit at a time, but I was feeling scattered today, so instead, I just started learning everything.

If you are a multi-disciplinary like me, that’s one thing you have to be vigilant about—whether or not you are learning too many things at once. If you have to ask yourself the question, “Am I learning too many things at once?” then you definitely are. There are only so many hours in the day, so it’s easily doable. Plus you’re a human being—don’t forget to take breaks and stay hydrated (half-kidding). Otherwise, you’ll end up with a headache like me. Everything in balance.

There’s nothing wrong with trying new things. Just make sure you are still putting in time with the things that are important to you. It’s better to finish what you start than constantly start new things and never finish anything. You don’t want to be that person who is known for their half-started ideas.

Of course, some things aren’t finish-able. You never “finish” learning a language or skill. You either stop or keep improving and using it. Stopping is an acceptable thing to do, particularly if it’s something you’ve been holding onto and need to let go of. But if you want to be great in a skill, you have to keep cultivating it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1007

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