Monday, April 4, 2011

Don't let a creative project get too big. You might see yourself too small to finish it.


It's easy to imagine yourself doing a major work. To make a grand statement. An idea so big, it's sure to capture attention.
We look at the Eiffel Tower or Mt Rushmore or the Sistine Chapel and wonder if we could ever accomplish something as big as that.
An Architect who dreams of doing a building that will be the icon building of a whole city.
An inventor who dreams of presenting an innovation that will change the way the world works.
Or a Composer or Artist who hopes to complete a project that becomes the defining work of their generation.
Call it ambition. Call it Vision. We all have something in us that dares to dream of doing something big.
But even projects that seem modest in comparison can end up becoming a huge commitment. Sometimes we just didn't know what we were getting ourselves into.
If we understand better how our relationship to a project changes from it's beginning to the end, we might look at the creative process more clearly.
We typically begin with an idea that excites us. We're keen to get started. We do some basic planning. We organise what we think we need. Then we begin. Everything is going along smoothly. We're making good progress. Then we're two thirds finished, we discover that we needed to think about things that we hadn't anticipated, or we decide that we need to add something extra. Either an extension to the original design or some details we think the project needs.
But this time, ideas for other projects are making their impatient voices heard. But the project itself is presenting some technical challenges, (since most projects typically begin creative and become more technical towards the end).
Then what can happen, people can loose sight of the end. As the saying goes, "People fail because they gave up not knowing how close they were to the end".
I also read that it can take half the time to finish the last 5% of a project. This is often something that people don't allow for. Creating a new website can be like that. Getting every link to work as it should took me half the time it took to design the whole website.
Another thing that can happen is, a project rarely turns out exactly like the original vision. Even though it looks great, it still looks different than expected. This can be a problem if you expect real life to match your imagination every time. But just enjoy the process of creating, and most of all, enjoy the final result. Remember, what looks less than perfect to you will look fantastic to everyone else.
I'm not saying you should forget your grand plans. Just plan them better. Keep each step clear and as simple as possible. Get help with the technical details, that other people are naturally good at. And keep sight on the end.

(For the confidence & courage series)
Steve writes & coaches about Creative & Career Development
You can find Steve at:

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