On creative work

“Hard to start off, boring to continue, impossible to finish up”; ingredients for failure in any given task. Add unhealthy criticism to the mix and you’ll have how I feel about every thing I do or want to do.

Starting new things is hard. They just are. I try to fight this by tricking myself into starting something while it doesn’t seem like doing so. From there on it’s just changing what’s already started and not that intimating.

Anything big enough to matter is going to take long enough to get boring. Sometimes adding some unplanned stuff can spice things up a little bit. Other times the only way would be taking a break.

I know exactly why I can hardly finish what I started. The ol’ perfectionism is to blame here. Whatever you do must be perfect, but nothing can ever be perfect; so the sure way to avoid doing anything imperfect is not doing anything at all. What a brilliant solution!

Breaking free from perfectionism is probably the longest ongoing battle of my life. Looking back I made a lot of progress. Nowadays I worry about finishing a task more than I do about it being perfect. And I try to stop adding details that have diminishing returns. But actually doing something leads us to the next problem.

Unhealthy self-criticism is the new battle front. Now that I hesitate less when making, I make up for it when I have to share. I can’t remember the last time I actively tried to show-off or promote something I did. The rationale here is: if I promote it, everyone will see it and its flaws and they’re going to judge me, laugh at me or whatever. Better just leave it somewhere and don’t tell anyone about it.

In reality though, the truth is, no one really cares. People are too busy with their own lives to look for mistakes in your creations. And they don’t just happen to stumble upon your work that often. Any creative work without an audience becomes a tedious and demoralizing in its own way. I mean what’s the point if no one is going to see/use it anyway?

All that said, this whole post started as a recommendation to this short video that really changed my mindset and helped me a lot to open up. I re-watch it from time to time and I guess you can benefit from it too.

▶ A guide to worrying

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