90% Ville Part 2: Three Reasons it’s Hard to FinishBy
Last week, I alluded to the difficulties of being 90% done with something. And what a long walk it is to get from 90% done to 100% done.
But I was heading out the door to Quebec City (Gorgeous! With lovely gracious people who don’t care if you don’t speak French!), so there was no time to delve into this rarely addressed problem in the fine art of finishing.
But now I’m back, so let’s delve.
The Many Faces of….Finishing
Soooo, as you know, I write often about the difficulty in getting started.
And I write sometimes about the funky middle, and how resistance protects us from finishing something that might be bad.
But there’s another tricky spot, and that’s the almost end.
That long walk from 90% done to 100% done.
And basically, there are 3 main reasons why you don’t want to take that walk and really finish.
But all of them are solvable–because once you become conscious of what they are, they will no longer fool you.
Reason #1: Your Fickle Brain
The first reason you don’t finish things that are so close to being done is that you mentally move on.
You had an idea and you got yourself started.
You then sucked it up and got yourself over a huge hump–that funky middle part where your project looked nothing like how you first pictured it–and now you’re on the other side where it all starts to come together.
Your piece or project suddenly has a “right-ness” to it that means it’s almost finished.
And then your left brain says “Problem solved.” and it starts to move on.
This is especially true if you make things for a living or on a deadline. You can see your way clear to the end so it feels safe to start working on other pressing things that also have a deadline.
Except that’s dangerous, because everything that’s left to do takes a lot of time to get done.
Reason # 2: The Khyber Pass of Creativity
Everything involved in that last 10% of your journey is time-consuming because it’s usually strangely…..hard.
Even when you’re so close to being done.
This is because the design problems you’re facing now are much more subtle, ambiguous, and feel slightly out of reach.
You can see the end, but now you’ve got to feel your way through to it, inching along the narrow cliff edge in the twilight.
This is frustrating because not so long ago, when things were all coming together, you were striding along in open fields, your water bottle full, a slight breeze in your hair, the sun at your back.
But now, because so much is already done, right answers are not easy to come by.
You’re in your own personal uncharted territory.
So you just have to be patient and trust yourself in these dark, narrow spaces.
And give yourself some help. An emotional crutch if you will.
For me, that’s using a timer.
Because when you set the timer, you create an agreement with yourself about how long you must endure this grey area, this ambiguity, this unfamiliar land.
To help you through the last 10%– last hard of it.
Except maybe one very important bit of hard that people don’t talk about much.
Reason #3: Forgetting Why
I learned a lot about the creative process in myriad design jobs where I created on a deadline. I’d pull myself through that last 10% of a project all the time because I had no choice. It was my job.
But what about when it’s your art or craft work at home?
Something you feel/felt excited about, but there’s no urgency–no boss demanding something, no deadline to meet–or else. No one to notice if you finish or not.
What then? Why suffer through all that hard? Why snake along the Khyber Pass of Creativity just to finish….what–this idea you had?
I mean, if an art project falls in the forest and there’s no one to hear it, does it make a sound?
Okay, perhaps you are “just” at home in your studio/craft room/patio/garage.
So…..it’s not life or death on the Khyber Pass. It’s not meet-the-deadline-or-get-fired.
And living in a culture that perceives things as legitimate when they make money, it can feel strange to spend a lot of time on something that probably won’t.
Especially if this involves some (temporary) suffering.
But that doesn’t mean it’s silly or unimportant either.
And when you’re in the hard and tearing your hair out over finishing a piece, maybe your spouse is saying–it’s okay, it doesn’t matter, who cares? It looks fine! Why do you do this when it makes you miserable?
They’re trying to help and don’t like to see you struggle.
And frankly, you might be saying that very same thing to yourself–who cares, why bother?
So you don’t work through the last bit of hard. You don’t finish.
Because well…….what’s the point?
The point is this: you finish your projects is because finishing honors your passion.
It reminds you that this thing you love to do matters. That it enriches your life to use your time in this particular way.
If you were a jock, maybe you’d work out a lot and run a marathon.
But you’re an artist.
And being in the world as the creative soul that you are is your real job in this world.
Your day job may be a blessing and provide for you and your family, and that’s great. Fantastic even.
But it’s not all of who you are. (And it might not be very much of who you are.)
So you work through the different hard parts of finishing because you’re supposed to live your life as an artist.
Experiencing life and the world through creativity. Thinking artistic thoughts. Immersing yourself in aesthetic quandaries. Expressing what’s inside you.
That my friend, is reason enough.
What do you think? Do you find it hard to finish? Do any of these reasons resonate with you? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.