Corral De La Cruz Theatre

The Obstacles of Finishing Creative Works

Dear Creatives,

As an amateur writer, one of the hardest tasks, in my opinion, is to finish a creative work. This creative work could come in the form of a play, a screenplay, or a novel, basically anything that require creative input over an extended time. The difficulty of finishing originates from many sources but in this article we’ll evaluate three, 1) the fear of finishing 2) the draw of other creative projects and 3) lack of accountability.

The Fear of Finishing

Welcome to Nightvale creators Jeffery Cranor and Joseph Fink discuss the fear of finishing in their writing advice podcast Start With This. I’d suggest any creative writers check out the channel on apple podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere they listen to their podcasts. In Cranor and Fink’s episode, But How Does it End?, Cranor and Fink explain the difference between the imagined product and the real product. The imagined product will always exceed the quality of the real product. It’s a bit of a platonic belief where the world of ideas and philosophies is more qualified than the world of reality. With writing, I believe this to be especially true, even more so when you’re first starting.

The reason real creative products can never exceed the idea of the product is the failures of the medium. Whether your medium is writing, painting, filming, or drawing, the failures of the medium will always come to light. With writing, your main source of creativity comes from words. Have you ever had a moment where you were unable to describe an emotion or feeling because a word did not exist to explain it? This happens all the time. Words fail us. When you create with words, they fail you even more than the average human. It can frustrate the creativity right out of you.

For beginning writers, the gap between the ideal product and the final product will be large. Unless you’re a prodigy, expect disappointment. My first screenplay took me two years to write. When I finished, I tried to go back and read it. I nearly threw up. It was horrible. The plot didn’t make sense, the characters were inconsistent, and the themes were unrecognizable. Even now, I fail to create final products that satisfy me, but the gap between the ideal and the real has narrowed. That’s the hope for any writer, that one day what you write will be the same as the idea in your head. Until that happens, keep writing.

The Draw of Other Creative Projects

Because finishing a work can be difficult, the alure of other projects can take you away from finishing a creative work. The potential project is a sirens song to a writer. The fresh idea, the original concept, the new character. Much like the last point, the draw of the new creative project is its perfection. What you have already written is imperfect and blemished. What you haven’t written is fresh and in a deranged way going to be perfect when you start.

If you fall into the trap of constantly changing projects, you’ll end up with a legion of half finished works that never went anywhere. The only advantage to this approach is that you’ve never failed. None of the projects are done and therefore can not be critiqued. To move from project to project, protects you from dealing with finality, but gives you the satisfaction of constant creation. Denzel Washington said, I believe in a graduation speech, something akin to, “Don’t mistake movement with progress.” When you move from project to project, you move but you do not progress.

Lack of Accountability

Without accountability, most projects will lack enough motivation to finish. I say most products because there are some projects that will finish without accountability but for every one project that finishes without accountability, there is an infinite amount of others that never do. The reason for this, I believe, is that the amateur creative has many responsibilities outside of writing that they are accountable for: Work, friends, family, rent, the list goes on. Any project or job with accountability supersedes any project or job without accountability. When the responsibility of daily life stacks up, the amateur writer, at times, cannot set aside sufficient resources to create. The writer focuses on what must be done in lieu of what wants to be created.

Conclusion

Do not fear, there exist strategies to overcome these surly obstacles. In the following article I will discuss some of my personal favorite strategies to overcome these obstacles as well as strategies I’ve heard other’s use.

Thanks for Reading and Get out there and Create!

Ty Hawton – Corral de la Cruz Theatre

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