So I have a little problem. Not a big one. I don’t think. But it is a problem. I have a major tendency to stop and start writing projects. And I know I’m not alone on this. In fact, I have an issue focusing my overall creativity.
Some days I wake up super jazzed about writing a book. Other days I want to paint a wall. Frequently I blog, but not frequently enough. Sometimes I just spend a whole day pinning things I want to do and don’t commit to any project at all. On really great days, I write, craft and read and feel like a freaking super hero.
When I started this blog, I was really excited. I love writing about writing and I knew I could do it well. I knew I could contribute some expertise as well as a first person account. And yet, I stalled. While I stalled I continued to write about writing, but not here. I also started a new blog. I got about 20,000 words into a manuscript and now I started another one, leaving the old one half-cocked and unfinished. I painstakingly attempt to build up my social media presence even though it’s my least favorite thing to do. And yet, I’m not unsatisfied.
Once upon a time, I would have really beat myself up for being uncommitted and unfocused. I am an insufferable perfectionist who likes to get an A+ in every category, but the longer I live in my creative life, the more forgiveness I have for myself. And the more I want you to forgive yourself for any starting and stopping you’re currently doing.
If You’re Starting, You’re Doing
There was a point in my life where I wasn’t creating at all. I was working or going to school so everything I did I did for someone else. I was either trying to earn a paycheck or score well on a test. As I’m sure just about any creative person can attest, that is not creating. That is performing at best. Executing at worst. And they just aren’t the same as creating.
If you’ve started a project and subsequently stopped, give yourself a break. Starting a creative project is 90% of the battle! There are so many people who “wish” they could write a book or “hope to” start a blog some day. Those people have yet to even put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and that’s a much bigger problem, in my opinion, than a little reckless abandon.
If you’ve started a project, you’re at least doing something. Maybe you find that the project wasn’t what you thought it would be. Maybe, it’s something totally different you’d like to reshape at a later date. Sometimes you find a project just isn’t something you’re interested in anymore. That’s all okay.
Just because you stopped, doesn’t mean you won’t start again…
What’s not okay is never starting something you really want to pursuit. This blog is a perfect example. When I started this (four years ago) I thought it was going to be something totally different than I feel like it could be now. I have grown in my career and my art. I have changed my perspective on what I want this site to be. I’ve gained confidence in the fact that not one person gives a shit about the things I create unless I give a shit about them.
I’m glad I started this site, but instead of raking myself over the coals about how inattentive I’ve been, I’m just going to start again. I’m not going to allow the neglect I’ve shown Relentless Writer be the reason I neglect it further.
I was always waiting for things to be perfect before I did anything and what I’ve realized is I’ll never be perfect nor will I ever get better while waiting for perfection. So while I feel a twinge of guilt and embarrassment for how long I’ve let this site remain untouched, I’m going to post today anyway.
Don’t Be A Total Flake Though
So now that I’ve rid you of some guilt, I’m going to lay a little layer back on. You can’t stop every project you start. You have to eventually finish something or commit your time somewhere.
Don’t force yourself into writing something you really don’t like. If you’ve gone all in on a screenplay and you hate hate hate it, then set it down. Turn your attention elsewhere, you can’t force something that’s not there. However, know that the work you’re doing is going to be hard and it only gets harder the more time you spend with it.
You know how in a relationship, there’s the honeymoon phase and then reality? Same goes for your writing. There is going to be a point where you don’t like the work. There’s going to be times where it gets hard. If you believe in the work though, you have to finish it. I’m finding more and more that it’s not about whether you can do the work or even whether you want to. It’s all about whether or not you believe in it. And if you do you have to push forward.
Give yourself a break. If you’re starting and stopping projects, that just may be a necessary process for finding your groove. Just know it isn’t a sustainable long-term mode to be in. Eventually you have to bite the bullet and finish something.