I’ve been working with creative and performing artists as, first, a therapist, and then for the last thirty-five years as a creativity coach. I’ve learned from my clients just how hard they find completing their creative work. Many creatives have trouble getting started; many have trouble working regularly; but almost all have special problems near the end, when the finish line is in sight. In this series, I want to spell out twelve reasons why completing creative work is so darn hard.
I’m framing this series from the point of view of a painter’s challenges, but the points apply to someone working in any creative field, from writing novels to game designing, from filmmaking to app development. I’m sure you’ll be able to easily translate the points I’m making to the medium in which you work. If you’d like additional resources, let me recommend three of my recent books: Redesign Your Mind, The Power of Daily Practice, and The Great Book of Journaling. Together they can provide you with a clear picture of how to get your creative work done through right thinking, good daily habits, and the self-awareness that journaling provides.
Here is challenge number 10.
Not being ready for the process to start all over again.
Some artists can’t wait to finish their current work of art and begin on their next one. They feel perpetually eager to begin, see with each new canvas or each unused ball of clay a new problem to solve or a new beautiful object to make, and hold completing their current work of art as the necessary steppingstone to their next creative adventure.
At least as many artists, however, have an opposite reaction. They find starting each new work of art something of a trial and even a little traumatic. At the moment of needing to begin they pester themselves with questions like, “Do I have another good idea in me?” and “Am I really working in the right style?” and “Will this be just another one of my paintings that no one wants?” Because beginning is so painful a process for them, they prefer to keep working on their current project, even if it is done or could readily be completed, rather than face the unpleasant reality of another blank canvas.
If you are in this second group, you need to improve and maybe even heal your relationship to starting. You don’t want starting to feel so terrible that it prevents you from completing! Try to answer the following question and then implement your answer: “If starting is a miserable point in the process for me, what can I do to make it less miserable?”
More to come!
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