How many projects have you “finished” in the last year? At any given time, I might have at least 5 projects going on around the house. I’m lucky my husband is supportive of me and I’m lucky we live in a big house (at least for now). Sometimes leaving a project to sit for a little bit can be the best thing for it, as long as you pick it back up again.
We fail to fully finish our projects because, quite simply, they are not done yet, or rather, we have decided they are not done yet. Most projects and works of art rarely have that last puzzle piece that fits perfectly and tells you you’re done. So how do we decide when something is finished? For most situations, the finish line is usually a due date. But what if you don’t have a due date? Do you make up a due date? What if it could be better with a little more time beyond the due date? Why limit yourself?
I’ve heard this quote over and over again, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” – Antoine de Saint Exupery. But come on, how do you really know when there is nothing more to add and there is nothing left to take away? I’m not even looking for perfection, just the best I can possibly do. But how do I know when I can’t do any better? And it’s not just about adding things and taking things away. Its about moving things around, changing the angle of a line, making one shape bigger, replacing a particular word, changing a hue. How do you even know when you are going in the right direction?
This reminds me of when I was shopping for my wedding dress. I ended up falling in love with the first dress I tried on, but I tried on several other dresses just to make sure. After going back to the shop for the third time, I was deciding between two final dresses; the first dress and another one my Mom liked better. The saleslady had me try on the first dress, then had me close my eyes while she helped me into the second dress. She zipped me up and told me to open my eyes. “Are you happy or disappointed in what you see,” she asked me. I was disappointed. Then she did it again while I slipped back into the first dress. When I opened my eyes I was happy. I knew I had found “the dress”.
Looking at it this way, I guess I’m not done with my book’s storyline and picture drafts, because I don’t have that same feeling. I can’t honestly say, this is the best I can do. This is it. So its back to the drawing board for me. It’s about being honest with ourselves and listening to how we really feel about the piece. If you’re not sure if you’re finished with something, step back for a bit. Just make sure you get back to it. If you don’t know if it’s done, its probably not. We’ll know when it is and when it is, we’ll be able to say, this is the one!