How to Finish…

How do you get things finished?
I only ask because I have one answer for other peoples projects (film sound design, music projects) and no cognitive answer for my own projects… and as I am in the process of starting a long term project of my own I have been thinking about the why, how & when of it likely being finished.

If you ask google for help, it seems to think half the population are primarily concerned with attempting to finish DIY building projects – but I don’t have a basement, so thats not much help… Finish a Rubics Cube? no, well…. using only your nose? maybe, but otherwise….. How to finish space invaders? – hmmm theres a few insights eg “you need strategy” sure! But WHAT strategy? I sometimes get the impression screenwriters start at the end (the 50 best movie endings) which isnt really possible with music & sound, but I suppose having a mental image of the end product may well be crucial…

I guess where part of my dichotomy lies is in the fact that when I am working on someone elses project there is a budget (usually) and an associated schedule/deadline. And I am very much aware that a lot of the most important work happens close to the deadline… But if you take away the budget & it becomes a personal project, what then drives the impetus to finish? The fear is that the project becomes a permanent work-in-progress…

How to Finish a Crossword Puzzle at wikipedia has some more relevant advice:
1. Fill-in the blanks first
2. Return to the start, making a second pass
3. Spend a long time thinking about the theme
4. Review the whole and the parts you missed or parts that you derived without any knowledge of the subject. Put these to memory.
5. Repeat these steps until the puzzle is solved

And the best tip of all: Keep an open mind. Don’t get stuck on one interpretation

Ok, so a strategy is forming, but it soon becomes apparent that considering the whole process is necessary to understand reaching the point of completion ie in the crossword example above, getting to step five requires fully understanding & implementing the previous four steps… So bear with me, in the next bunch of posts I’m going to externalise my thoughts on creative process with the aim of uncovering a few fundamental truths and more importantly, some strategies to make the end both possible & achievable…

3 Responses to How to Finish…

  1. Great art is not finished it is abandoned.

  2. danijel says:

    A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  3. Stephen says:

    From a slightly more practical perspective, I recommend David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”. [http://snipurl.com/24evc] It can be pretty silly in terms of it’s self-help vibe, but there’s a few tips here and there that have vastly improved my productivity & ability to manage many small tasks.

    Also, I highly recommend Basecamp [http://basecamphq.com] for online project management. Even though I run a two-person business, it’s a wonderful tool to arrange tasks, milestones, project documentation, & correspondence surrounding any project. It has a great set of permissions as well if you choose to let anyone else view your project status. Also, it’s free to try with a very limited number of projects and upload space. If nothing else, it helps me clearly arrange my projects with an enlightening degree of granularity.

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