Good things happen when things get finished. This film was finished over a year ago, and it's still getting festival mileage. Way to go AR Media!
What was the last thing you finished? And do you remember how good it felt? (Perhaps the last thing you finished was a hamburger...but that's neither here nor there.)
Two mantras are flashing in my head like neon signs these days, and they are incongruent with each other:
Do you want it perfect or do you want it done?
"Make it perfect and we'll go from there" -- David Fincher
I have several projects facing that perfect/done dichotomy.Right now, I am re-cutting Here Is the Steeple, a webseries I wrote and directed last year, with the goal of getting it into two film festivals with March 26th submission deadlines. It's almost...done.
Yes, I want it to be perfect. And no, I don't want to go Lucas on it and continually cut different, supposedly "better" versions of it. But it needs to be done, in this case, by March 26th, or the potential opportunities of these two film festivals will be missed.
As I stare down the list of other unfinished projects, I wonder, what is it that makes finishing things so hard sometimes? As they say, there's nothing harder than starting a project, except finishing it.
When you start a project, a script, a film, or whatever, there's at least the excitement and the newness of it to propell you onwards. But when it comes to finishing things, what's up with that?
Is it that we're sick of the material, or bored with the process of polishing the finer details (instead of painting with the broad strokes)? Is it that we're scared to commit to a final version of something? Is it that we know once it's done, we'll have to show it to someone?
Whatever it may be that keeps us from finishing things, how can we get past that to finish and accomplish the creative projects we're working on?
CHRONIC STARTERS ANONYMOUS
I am a chronic starter. I would start a new project every day if I could. So one way I am driving my mission to be a finisher - a closer, as it were - is to bar myself from starting anything new until I've finished some of the major projects on my plate. It's a 12-step program that I'm...starting.
Self-imposed deadlines are awesome, as long as you're committed to keeping them. Nothing bad will happen, you won't lose your job, if you miss a self-imposed deadline, or "push it back a little". That's why it's really easy to ignore them. But here are two ideas to help you keep them:
(1) Get an accountability partner who will push you until you finish whatever it is. I told my husband and my parents about my goal to finish Steeple, and I also told the lead actor, who had a strong interest in it getting done. And now I'm telling you.
(2) Tie your self-imposed deadline to an actual, tangible deadline. I'm using March 26th, the submission deadline for two different film festivals - the Regent University Showcase and the SAG Foundation NY Short Film Showcase. Find something that you can do with your project or film once it's done, so that it's not just your sheer will-power driving you, but the goal that you set your sights on too.
When I edit draft versions of videos, I put "_DRAFT_1" (or"_DRAFT_42", etc.) at the end of the file name. When I can finally put "_FINAL" as the name, it feels awesome! Strive for version done. It's a lot more awesome than version 417. Or maybe something you've worked on is pretty much done already, you're just hesitant to cut the apron strings and let it go.
Would Van Gogh's The Starry Night be that much better with one more star?
Would the Beatles' "Hey Jude" be that much better with one more round of "Na Na Na Na Na Na Na"?
Now, I am the poster child for not finishing things. It's true. But I'm trying to reform myself. It is said that a piece of writing (or art) is never truly finished, only abandoned. I'm saying, don't abandon your art, but bring it to it's most completed version, then send it out into the world. Good things happen when you do. You might finish a museum-worthy painting. You might release a hit song. You might even get into the Colony Film Festival.