When I began writing about the components of creative energy, I listed four --curiosity, courage, consistency and commitment. While writing my last post, I realized something was missing, and that there needed to be one more C -- for completion! (What an irony – since I thought of it while I was completing this post!)
Completion is incredibly important because it gives us energy to proceed on to the next creative project, particularly if we feel the current one was successful. But, even if it didn’t measure up to our standards, it often gives us clues as to what to do with the next endeavor.
Completion occurs because of passion and persistence.
in turn, completion stimulates even more energy.
I love the quote by Wayne Dyer: ”I've learned over the years that when I go to that place of passion within me, there's no force in the universe that can interfere with my completing a project.”
I remember when I was working on creating twenty fiber sculptures for my one-person show at the Franz Bader Gallery in Washington D.C. I had already completed several before I was granted the show, yet I had many more to create and only one year to do it. I found that every time I finished a piece – – even if it was not my favorite – – the resultant creative energy propelled me onto the next project.
The process of completing something is analogous to writing a sentence. Each word is deliberately chosen, and that first word beckons the next. We are compelled to write one word after the other, until the end of the sentence is reached, where we put a period. But, often, as soon as a period is placed, the next sentence begins to form in our minds. However, the writing may not be totally complete, for that one finished sentence opens the creative space for another word and sentence.
Completing something ignites its own unique form of energy.
Sometimes this part of the creative process feels magical. I love the quote by designer Jonathan Ive:
"What I love about the creative process, and this may sound naïve, but it is this idea that one day there is no idea and no solution, but the next day there is an idea. I find that incredibly exciting and conceptually actually remarkable.”
Completing something is like giving birth.
After I have completed a big project – like the one-person show I talked about at the beginning of this post – I develop a form of postpartum depression. Once the show came down, I gloomily ruminated to myself, “Okay, now that I have completed that huge, successful project what will I, could I, possibly do to follow that act ?” The mere thought overwhelmed and depressed me.
Once I complete something, it becomes an extension of me.
Now when I think that a work of art might be complete (be that a drawing, painting, or photograph), I display it on my studio wall. As I complete each work and add it to my bulletin boards, I take down the oldest artwork or the one I like the least.
Even then, I rarely throw out a work of completed art. I just store it away, for in the future it might inform me of a new idea. Of course that means I have piles of stored artwork. Yet periodically I pull out a piece I completed years before and notice something new. That find excites my imagination and reinvigorates my creativity.
Completing something is a mixed blessing. It can be satisfying and rewarding, yet it can also elicit its own form of emptiness.
And, so it is with both life and art --
Completing one day, one year, doesn’t mean it’s the end of our life.
Completing one work of art, doesn’t mean it’s the end of our creative process.
Finally, for an amazing example of what completing a creative project -- both in science and in music -- can look like, watch this video. What will they be inspired to do next?
What is your experience with “completing”?
Do any of you fear completing something? If so, I would love to hear your story.
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