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How to Finish a Project

I have many, many projects. I have more projects than I have time to complete them. Herein lies the problem, to finish a project you have to dedicate yourself to that one project. This is very difficult if you are like me and have so many projects.

As an artist that isn't great at focusing (and who probably is also undiagnosed for ADD or ADHD), I find it very difficult to work on one project at a time. I get bored easily and I naturally move onto the next potentially shining gem, but this natural inclination has a terrible flaw— it gets nothing done when there are no deadlines.

When I go to finish a project and force myself to work on it until its completion, I consider a few things:

Is this the best project I can work on right now?

Is this the project you want to be known for? Writers and artists get stuck commercially in one genre or one subject. Do you want to be working on this same idea or genre for a long period of time? Is this the best project for your career? For you goals?

Only you can answer these questions. The answers will drive you to its completion as you will answer this over and over again until the project is done.

Am I motivated enough to see this to completion?

Motivation and determination are key factors. Why do you want to complete this particular project?

When I was working on Faeryland: The Defeat of the Troll King consistently, I reminded myself constantly that this is the first book I wanted to finish. It was worth it to me because I believed in the story. Depression was rampant in that moment and used the book to pull me out of it. I believed wholeheartedly in that book. I only made about $20 for my efforts (which actually means I had plenty of losses— See my other blog post: Choosing to be an Artist & Money for more on that area of my artist life), but I would not go back on my choices that lead me to where I am today— which right now I am jobless, but I am not depressed. I am at a much better place physically and emotionally and that is what matters.

Do I have the resources to complete this project to the best of my ability?

This can also mean: Am I good enough?

For Faeryland: The Defeat of the Troll King, all I needed was my ability to write, draw, and Photoshop. If I was making a movie or baking, then I would need equipment because I don't have those tools. Do you have the recipe for success? If you do not have the tools necessary for completing your project, then it will never get done. There are choices of the medium that you can use alternatively that might be easier for you to complete. For an example if you want to be a director and make a movie, but do not have the equipment, crew, actors, or any funds, then you can either make a zero budget film starring yourself and/or close friends and family with your iPhone or you can screenwrite the film instead. You have to make these difficult choices in order to complete your project.

Are you good enough? Well— this idea and project is uniquely yours because you are working on it without willfully copying someone else's ideas or stealing someone else's work. You are good enough because this project is entirely yours and it is your idea and not anyone else's. Either rise to the occasion or it will never get done. It is as simple as that.

If you can only draw stick figures and your project requires you to draw full body characters in futuristic suits fighting aliens in a comic strip, then don't even start the project until you can either draw or pay someone who can do it for you. If you pay someone to draw characters for you for your story, make sure you have a contract with them stating that you own the characters they draw for you. It will generally cost more initially, but if you sell this idea or it becomes a big hit— then you won't have to pay them again. Contracts are important for both the artist/writer and the buyer. It protects both of you.

Here's the thing and I don't like saying it because the words are too simple and irritating to accept: just go out there and work on your project. The execution is a struggle and harrowing process. Writer's block and art block are real. You just have to struggle through it like the rest of us. Like Nike's coined phrase "Just do it!" It is unavoidable struggle to complete a project. Each project in life is a mountain and we all struggle up this mountain with our projects, but you can never reach the summit without struggling and working your way to the top. Some of us have been to the summit of a few mountains and know what to expect. When you go up your first mountain, you will struggle. I always suggest a smaller project to go through first before you try to tackle something like a trilogy— just so you can understand the mountain, but we are individuals and we have to fight our own demons. Your mountain maybe taller than any mountain I may have ever faced and you may have unique challenges awaiting you near the summit. There is no way to know beforehand. The struggle is real.

I always get very anxious in interviews. I am somehow always more anxious before the interview than during the interview by like a thousand times. I find this anxiety very painful and upsetting. I came up with a phrase during this time to push me through this issue: Feel the pain and do it anyway.

Don't worry about the outcome. You have very little control about becoming famous and loved by the world. You only have control over yourself and the project in front of you. Feel the pain and do it anyway.

Good luck!

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