I had been working on a blog entry for days. It’s a topic I feel strongly about and have lots to say, but it wasn’t coming together very well. I started and restarted it. I tried editing it. I walked away from the page and patted the dogs while staring into space- a truly great way to get clear on an idea when you are struggling with it. I gave the topic some space, some fresh eyes, a little time to percolate. And you know what? The entry is still not good. So I am moving on. I may go back to it, I may not, but it is definitely time to try something else.
This process happens all the time. Writers discover a couple hundred pages into their novels they can’t find a way to bring their characters to the end. Painters just can’t translate to the canvas the exact image they have in their minds. A lawyer working on a closing speech will realize she has talked herself into a corner and this line of reasoning will never convince a judge of her client’s innocence.
For some people, the idea of putting something down is a sign of failure. I have clients who realized it was time to move on from an idea they had spent considerable amounts of time and creativity energy developing. And they were a little angry and/or bitter about it – feeling like they wasted their time or if they had just been a little more creative they could have solved the problem. We’ve all been there in one way or another.
The truth is though that projects don’t always work out. It’s not the end of the world, nor is it wasted time. Creative time spent on any endeavor, whether it reaches completion or not, always serves to exercise and strengthen your creative energy. And that puts you in a better place for the next project you start.
The Walt Disney Company spends millions of dollars on Research and Development. They pay some of the most creative people in the world to tackle projects that may consume their work lives for several years. In the end, only a small number of those projects ever make it all the way to fruition. Even projects that look viable may be discarded in favor of others. I’ve met a couple people who work for Disney in that capacity and they loved, loved, loved their jobs. They understood that the end result wasn’t nearly as satisfying as the journey. When one path led them to a dead end, they started down another.
There is a fine line between sticking it out and banging our heads against the wall and it’s useful to figure out the difference. Sit with yourself in silence, listen to your breathing and focus as inwardly as possible. Ask yourself, are you still working on this because you truly believe there is an end point or a resolution to the project? Or are you continuing to push forward out of a sense of obligation? What would it take for it to be okay for you to start something new?
If it is time to move on, take heart. There is another journey just beginning and the last, one regardless of the outcome, led you here.