This is How It Starts

09 Feb | art / personal / writing | 2 comments

I am worried about the state of my creativity. I am very good at starting things, but not so good at finishing them. I take it, from something that has recently come to my attention, that I am not alone in this phenomenon, but I don’t like it.

I think that my worry stems from the fear that what I’m doing is just, if I’m being honest, not very good. I don’t know that for sure, of course, but I do have enough sense to legitimately think about it. It’s little things, always. What if the perceived audience doesn’t like it? That should not bother me; I stopped creating for any actual audience a long time ago. But there’s something down underneath in me that won’t let that go, that subsists on the idea that I might not be worth something if, for example, I finish my book and then no one reads it.

I don’t need any more reasons to feel like I’m not worthwhile. There are plenty already swimming around in my head.

And so I have these ideas that sit in my brain or on pages I’ve written or wherever, and that’s all they are, ideas. Ideas are awesome, yes, but they’re nothing if they’re not executed. Thomas Edison didn’t just have the idea to slander Nikola Tesla and nearly erase him from history. No, Edison knew that in order to go down in history as the greatest inventor ever, he would have to act on that idea. So he did, and look at what people who aren’t put-upon geeks think of those two now.

Not that anything I do is on that scale, of course, but the tortured metaphor remains. I have things that I could, and should, be doing, and I let myself be paralyzed by nothing instead, a constant state of low-lying anxiety over what I maybe could do if I just applied myself.

I know that I should finish what I start, and what I really ought to do is finish what I I’ve already started before I start doing anything else. That way I could clear my ledger, clean slate, fresh ideas, all that.

And maybe I will. Maybe that little piece of advice is enough to make me finish something. And all I had to do was spill a couple hundred words on a page to make it happen.

We’ll see.

Finish What You Start
by Andy Smith for the Do Lectures


  1. Josie

    Having finished a couple of those knitting projects that were staring at me reproachfully, I can tell you that it DOES make you feel kind of awesome. Even if you end up completely undoing one of them after finishing it.
    This, from the girl with the half-finished NaNoWriMo novel from 2011 on her computer. BUT, it does help. I swear.