Creator’s Curse: The Rules


I have this problem of starting creative projects at home and then… never finishing them. It’s actually kind of shameful.

artwork-out-of-orderI have a great idea,” I declare to my family, then dive in like gangbusters, working on a very lengthy project. After a couple of weeks pass, I will have already discarded my project and moved onto the next best thing.

I have disgraceful collections of half-knitted pillows, afghans, drawings, paintings, and jewelry.  I call this the Creator’s Curse, and it comes from fast-paced excitement over creativity but with a penchant for easy distraction. The results (or lack thereof) with the Creator’s Curse inevitably lead to feelings of shame, guilt, bitterness, and lack of creative fulfillment (which can be detrimental if you are a self-proclaimed artsy person, like I am).

I’ve attempted to combat this problem by only working on small projects, but my creative ambition wants me to do something bigger! Which, again, I fail to finish, and I’m back to what I referenced before – project incompletion.

The only way that I can combat this Creator’s Curse is to organize my ambition and fuel motivation. I have to set rules for myself, create deadlines, avoid the TV like the plague, and utilize the genius of digital and social media.

The Rules

Here is where you have to be extremely honest with yourself, and understand your commitment level (which can be a bit of a challenge).

  • How busy are you, really?
  • Are you willing to commit to your project and set it as a priority?
  • Are you already overwhelmed with tasks and goals?

Here are my personal rules about committing to projects in general:

  1. Thin the herd.
    If you have an overwhelming amount of things to do (you know, the important stuff that impacts your day/life), take care of those first. Create a task list in order and check off each task as you complete them. Set deadline dates and/or times for each task. I arrange my list from easiest task to hardest task for the sake of motivation. Accomplishing small items and moving down the list can make you feel productive, and won’t overwhelm you or make you feel anxious.  It can be as easy as returning that Netflix DVD that you watched 3 weeks ago, to painting your cabinets. Whatever tasks you need to complete, be like Nike and Just Do It.
  2. Turn on some jams!
    If you are feeling like a lazy bag of bones, turn off the TV and turn on some upbeat music. Music is super motivating. Get your body moving!  If you’ve ever taken an aerobics class at the gym, upbeat and high impact music is as it motivates you to workout faster, harder, and stronger. So turn on that music and start accomplishing those tasks. Clear the clutter!  Need help finding music to get you moving? Dig up your inner Club MTV Downtown Julie Brown and check out my 90s Dance Jams mix on Spotify.
  3. Pick one project.
    I don’t know about you, but I like to plan ahead and line up my projects. This is a bad idea when you have the Creator’s Curse. Lining up projects can make you anxious to move on to the next. Instead, find one project and refrain from looking for others until you have completed the one you’re working on. Believe me, the next project is not going anywhere.
  4. Keep your eyes on the prize.
    There will be times when you have to press pause on your project, but you really should make sure the pause is very temporary and short-lived. Your projects should have some form of priority in your life. Literally schedule in time for them. If your life really does get overwhelming and you need to put your work on the back-burner, don’t discard it when you return. Don’t start another project. Improve it if necessary, but finish what you started.

Next up, the dreaded deadlines!  Stay tuned for Part Two.  In the meantime, feel free to add your tips in the comments.

Dwan McClendon
Project Manager