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Monday, February 18, 2013

Never Start a New Project…

HAH!  You probably thought I was letting you off the hook creatively.  Don’t start celebrating yet…you haven’t heard the caveat behind that ellipses (…)

Here’s what the whole sentence is:  Never Start a New Project…until you have completed the old one.  (Shhh.  I hear you groaning.  Stop that.)

"Finished" in sign language
When you start a project and then stop to start another one, and then another one, et cetera, your creative energy gets spread too thin.  Each person only gets so many “attention units” that their mind can hold onto.  For each unfinished project, you leave behind attention units that cannot be freed up until the project is completed. 

Ask yourself…why did I quit working on that unfinished piece?  Perhaps you didn’t like the direction it was going, didn’t like the color scheme or even (gasp) thought you might have “messed it up” or ruined it.  Maybe you got bored.  Maybe you aren’t sure what stopped you in your tracks. 

I learned many years ago from one of my instructor’s, Stewart Cubley of The Painting Experience, that rather than quitting or destroying the unfinished piece, I should keep working on it.  Perhaps in order to continue it requires finding one small square inch area on which to focus.  Maybe it requires stepping back and choosing a different paintbrush or color.  Maybe it requires a short break—take a quick walk around the neighborhood or get some sleep, setting a specific appointment time (as if you were attending a class you’d paid a great deal of money to attend) to show up and start in the morning.

Sometimes we quit because we think we are bored—but I have found that the mind can be very canny at protecting us—and sometimes when I think I am bored, what I really am is afraid or emotionally churned up.  This is a prime time to force myself to continue working.  It is what often is the breakthrough point

The next time you have the urge to abandon a piece of art or writing, commit yourself to finish it before you will start a new project or destroy an unfinished piece.