Why I Can’t Finish A Project

April 8, 2017

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

Leonardo Da Vinci

While being called ‘creative’ and ‘innovative’ is quite complimentary, there are times I think it’s more of a curse. As I write this, a half-knit scarf is strewn about on the countertop. A hand-pressed paper order remains to be filled. A dress with an unfinished hem is draped over the back of my chair, and other sewing projects are lying in pieces, measured and cut and half-assembled, stored throughout my tiny house. I have more stashes of ideas then I know what to do with. One project can spin off into dozens of inspirations — and a dozen more roadblocks.


It’s not just the tangible, crafting side that stumbles along. A few weeks ago I hit a bad bit of digital luck, twice. First, my only external hard drive failed. I know better than to work without a fail safe, but I did anyways. Batches of photos and projects from college and a myriad of digital clutter carried with me from computer to computer over the past ten years lost. To be honest, I’m not even sure exactly what it is I lost, but I felt it deeply.

A few hours later? I crashed this blog — and spent a week rebuilding it from scratch.

So whether tangible or digital, it seems there is always some twist in the fabric of the universe conspiring to interrupt. To diverge the well-planned path. To throw a curveball. And, oftentimes, a minor interruption becomes a long-term disruption, and projects remain unfinished.

Wise Words

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from my college animation teacher back at Emerson. I wanted to stay after class, frustrated and eager to restart an already handed-in assignment, because I just wasn’t satisfied with certain parts of how it came together. That’s when she told me, if you keep editing the past, you’ll never be done. Instead use what you learned to make your next project better. Wise words.

Leaving a project unfinished is always something I beat myself up over, but I’m learning to embrace it, albeit reluctantly. I’m working to be more conscious and comfortable in declaring something as ‘finished’ — even though I could still change a few things, or acknowledging that I have simply lost interest.

The hard drive remains broken and corrupted. I decided it wasn’t worth a full paycheck to recover it. The rose-colored memories of candid college photos and old photoshoots on that drive are probably best forgotten. More than likely, the actual ones and zeroes were just grainy, pointless snapshots of people I only met once… and there is probably a reason I was never inspired to return to them in so many years.

In fact, I feel unburdened knowing that I have a clean slate. Sometimes moving on is moving up.

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