When to Abandon a Creative Project
In my post a few days ago I mentioned that I hope to begin working on “one thing at a time” for a while, to gain more focus. My list of ongoing creative projects is too complicated. I’m declaring creative bankruptcy, so to speak. I’ve had too many irons in the fire for too long. Why so many? It seems I have trouble bringing an end to some projects.
I can see two reasons why some of my projects seem to hang around forever.
First, some ideas just don’t seem to be designed so that I can reasonably finish them. For example, last year I was hard at work on a play, revising the script and blogging some related notes. Before I can finish that project, as designed, I’m going to need actors who are very skilled at improvisation, a director, a choreographer, an elaborate set featuring electronics and plenty of vintage furniture, and of course a stage. The material aspects alone are prohibitive, especially now that I no longer live in a warehouse loft, where I could store junk and create a stage. In light of all that, perhaps I should either redesign the idea so that I can actually make it happen, or give up on it.
Abort, Retry, Ignore?
Second, some ideas just don’t work out. This might actually be true of most ideas, but for example my first play, and my book of poems, those ideas both became boring to me. I haven’t been inclined to admit that, but it’s true. The first play, “Street Preacher” was a college project which I always thought I would one day “finish” but I never have done that. Now, I think perhaps it is best to let it rest where it did, as a college project, and to move on. A few years ago, I tried to create a book of poems. It fizzled, partly because I lost my sense of where it was going and partly because I lost interest. I was able to recycle the project, though, and it became the foundation of a finished spoken word album. Sometimes, giving up is useful.
If some projects are impossible, and others have died, what’s the solution? I’m not certain yet, but I think, for now the solution is to revise the list, and the projects so that I have smaller, simpler projects, designed to be actually accomplished somewhat quickly. The projects that can’t be revised that way, I guess I’ll retire them.