Why You Should Completely Abandon Your Next Creative Project

Abandoned Hospital
image: howzey

Whatever you’re working on right now, I suspect that the next creative project or idea on the rapidly looming horizon is looking far more enticing than the one you’re currently immersed in.

Especially if you’re in a dip with this current one and have lost some of that initial excitement and motivation.

It’s the magpie syndrome that most of us artists are familiar with – the allure of the bright shiny new idea dazzles us and draws us away from what we’re in the midst of with the promise of so much more.

“Daahling, why are you wasting your time hanging around with THAT dowdy old has-been, when you could be out partying with the gorgeously delicious MOI?”

And, being the easily seduced creative creatures that we are, we need very little encouragement to head off along this new path, at the same conveniently skipping merrily away from the more difficult task of actually finishing the project we recently began.

Now I’m not suggesting we should ALWAYS finish every project that we begin. It’s unrealistic to expect that every single time.

One of the Seven Pillars Of Truth in How To Get Focused and Create What Matters is about this exact topic. There will be ideas that you begin that simply don’t work out anything like as well as you’d hoped, so it’s better to cut your losses, take as much learning and experience from it as you can, let go and move on.

The problems arise when you abandon EVERY project you begin, hopping like some reckless adulterer from bed to bed as soon as a new potential lover winks, smiles or tips their hat at you.

Beauty may indeed be the promise of happiness, but real beauty has depth and substance, it’s more than a seductive surface shimmer.

Which is why I’m suggesting you abandon your next creative project before you’ve even begun it, and instead focus your full attention and creativity on the one in hand.

Because it’s your project and it deserves to have every ounce of passion and attention you have poured into it. And because you deserve to experience and enjoy every stage of your creative process. Not just the first one.

In our culture of sound bites and instant gratification it’s becoming increasingly difficult to focus on just one thing, and yet it is (and always has been and always will be) a principle for incredibly rewarding creating that is so simple.

You can break this secret of creative fulfillment down into five steps:

1. Pick one project, one that really matters to you.

2. Work on it regularly, ideally a little each day.

3. Create it through to its natural conclusion.

4. Glow in the sense of pride and achievement you feel.

5. Pause, reflect, choose your next important project and begin again.

Most of us, most of the time, don’t get far past step one and end up in constant loop of starting with great hopes then, as we said, abandoning our current beau when something apparently more appealing swans into view.

One thing that can help greatly in adopting the five step technique above is to just practice doing one tiny thing at a time.

It can be as simple as making a cup of tea or washing dishes.

The point is not to take on something complex, but to experience the feeling of being focused entirely on one thing.

The more often we practice this, the easier it becomes to apply to other tasks too, including creating only one project at a time.

Then, instead of flitting frantically from one half finished project to the next, we actually get to enjoy the entire creative process and evolve as experienced artists with an every growing body of wonderful, dedicated work.

So let me ask you: How many projects would you estimate you have on the go at present?

Which one are going to pick to focus on until it’s finished?

If you’d like someone to hold you accountable, tell us about your project in the comments below. I dare you to Be Brave.

 

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6 thoughts on “Why You Should Completely Abandon Your Next Creative Project”

  1. As a creative, it is so hard to focus. Especially in the current landscape where it is all about inspiration and putting out great stuff all the time. Especially in the blogging world. Focus is difficult. But I like your tips. Gonna dive into the reading!

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  2. I love this way of looking at creative wanderlust.

    There’s definitely a middle line that a person really has to find to be able to finish a project and let go of one that just isn’t going anywhere.

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    1. Yes definitely Lori. I think for many of us it’s a major breakthrough and relief just to say it’s ok to not finish every project, some do just run out of steam and don’t turn out like we hoped. Better to cut our losses, learn from the experience and redirect our energy into something that really excites us.

      Like

  3. Great post, I find it’s the only way to get things done. Though, I’m currently trying to maintain a blog, a podcast, and work on my novel, Chasing Wagons.

    I think your advice applies well even to handling those two simultaneously. To avoid being overwhelmed just break it into smaller pieces.

    Thanks for sharing,

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    1. Alan, thanks for your comments.

      The more I learn about creativity, the more I realise that virtually everything comes down to focus. Everyone has the most incredible ideas within them. The only difference between thosw who make incredible art and those who don’t, is that some people find ways to focus their ideas and energy for long enough to actually produce something meaningful amidst an ocean of distractions.

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