Keeping going and finishing is something I spend a lot of time writing about and talking about. I mean, you plan your work, you execute it flawlessly, and then you go back and edit, tweaking and tuning and adding and taking away…
How do you know when it’s finished?
It’s a combination of things. It’s a mixture of faith in your ability, professional experience, and learning to trust your instincts. All those qualities might seem to be all the same thing, but it’s essential for you to finish and polish your work that you exhibit one or all of these qualities.
FAITH no not just a song by the young George Michael, and a word which people not only scorn (because of the religious connotations) but rarely think about. Being a great artist or writer means technical mastery and fabulous inspiration, does it not? Yes but all the great artists and writers have a huge amount of FAITH in their abilities. If you don’t have FAITH then you stop working at your art before you get good. If you lack the FAITH in your ability you won’t polish your work as much and leave it to others to bring it to fruition. It takes more than talent to be a great creator of art. It takes unshakable FAITH in yourself.
EXPERIENCE similarly is gained by hard work. You do your art, whatever it is, visual, audible, textual or even edible, day in day out, getting it right, getting it wrong, succeeding, or not. What’s that quote from Samuel Beckett’s “Worstward Ho”?
“All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
You keep at it, you’re persistent, tenacious, you’re passionate, eager to learn, eager to improve. Eventually just doing that day in day out grind… you get good. Your brushstrokes are sure and definite, your words are simple, efficient and clear, your musical notes are surprising, emotive and powerful. And when you look at your work when it is finished, you know EXACTLY what does and doesn’t belong.
And you TRUST your instincts. Without that TRUST you won’t have the guts to take a pen or a brush and delete the stuff that doesn’t belong. Your hand will be steady your eye will be clear and you will strike it out. You will see the path to the finished work as clear as day, like sunlight illuminating your path to the inevitable and satisfying conclusion.
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