Finishing. The third act of the play. An essential creative stage that stares us down, mercilessly.
Do you have a hard time finishing your creative projects? Welcome to the club.
The first act is the inspiration, when the words, or the paint, or the music simply flow. There’s little structure, it’s expansive, it’s limitless!!
The second act is an exciting, “This is the best thing I have ever done!” experience, where we see the inspiration rolling into a groove, the pieces easily falling into place.
Drunk on our own genius, we blindly and naively arrive at the the third and final act…
…where we question whether we even deserve to live.
This part requires believing in ourselves so much that we would dare to finish and call it ‘something.’ It begs of us not just to finish, but do our vision justice. The inspiration that flowed without demand, now needs precision and focus. It doesn’t feel as fun. Besides a universal fear of failing, this part requires that we face the inevitable end of our responsibility in the lifecycle of our creation; sending our babies off to college, sometimes ungrateful and out of our control (sob).
The third act is why we often don’t even bother to start, why the warm up can go on indefinitely.
Some people say nothing is ever really finished. But I disagree. There is always a moment where you know your work is done, when the last stroke, note, or word is in place. You can’t stop until that moment, and you definitely should not keep going after it.
Sometimes pieces emerge in a short instant, and other times they carry on for years. But, no matter the length, the finish line is clear.
There are a few things that make finishing easier, and they might not be what you fantasize about.
Each of these is a form of limitation.
Many budding artists may resist them, but after the inspiration has faded, it is always limitation that squeezes out the next level of genius your creation is pushing you towards.
Probably the most transcendent project I ever did was in college, when I was given the task to make a life size sculpture of a human in dynamic action. The limitation? I could only use cardboard shapes of triangles, squares and circles. What an awful project, but I did it and pushed myself beyond what I thought I could do. It was one of my best sculpture pieces…I got an A!
When I worked as a video editor, there was never enough time, nor did I have the material I needed to pull off the projects successfully. But, I always did. Because creativity loves limitation and deadlines.
We can view limitation as a healthy challenge that activates, not squashes, the next level of our genius, ultimately expanding who we are.
Finishing is the ultimate limitation. We can no longer run on just inspiration, but instead allow the details and deadlines to strengthen our resolve, and soften our resistance.
It is no longer just about you, but about what happens when your work is released into the world, or to its new home. You are in service to that, even if it goes nowhere.
Artists often make the mistake of thinking it’s all about them. But really, artists are in service to the inspiration, or, as the Druids would say, the Awen that is flowing through them.
The rewards are potentially eternal! Perhaps that painting you did will now be proudly hung on your wall for the rest of your life, passed to your children, and their children, etc. That song may live on in a culture indefinitely. That book may change a few, hundreds, thousands, or millions of lives!
Afraid to finish but inside you really wanna? Come to LightSchool for the Sacred Arts, where the Awen is flowing in abundance, and the limitations are squeezing your genius into masterpieces.
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