Creatively Stuck

I started a project last year. It's a creative project in my own time that requires writing, music, and artwork. It's a big ask of myself and whilst it was going well to start with, I've seemingly gotten myself stuck and can't find a way out.

The story element to this project was written first. And that's more or less done. A couple of people have reviewed it for me and I've tweaked bits and pieces, but it's basically finished.

The music element of it though - which was always going to be the hardest work - has come to a complete standstill.

I was well underway with 2 of the tracks (of probably 9 in total) but I lost my creative streak and have found it tough to get back into it. Worse, in the time that it's taken me to come back round to it, I've lost the thread that I was working on and I don't really like what I've done or where it was going anymore.

And so the music part is more or less back at square one.

The artwork had a few high level ideas created using an AI, but I haven't really touched that. This part is not a surprise though - I've got the least skill and experience in this stuff so I expected it to be last.

Why am I stuck with the music though?

We ran competitions amongst friends during lockdown where we'd take a theme and dedicate a small amount of time to it - usually a week or two weeks. At the end of this period the idea was that you presented what you had. This was a huge motivator because the finite time meant that you couldn't maƱana it - it had to be started right now - and the other driver was that there was nowhere near enough time to make it "perfect" - you just had to make it "good enough".

I think this is where I've come unstuck with my project. I know that I've got as long as I want because I've no committed external deadline. I also know that I need to make it "perfect" - otherwise what's the point.

And so I find myself creatively stuck. I don't really have the time to spare - particularly not to reach such a high bar ("perfect") and so I simply let it lapse.

It's probably pretty obvious what frustrates me here: it's not the work, it's not even the problem. It's the fact that I know the solution and yet I still procrastinate.

In a work context we've solved this using Agile sprints and the idea of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). We've got 2 weeks sprints that set a series of interim deadlines and we've got a built in acceptance that we're not aiming for perfect - MVPs.

If someone at work came to me with this problem I'd probably say something about "perfect being the enemy of progress" and then help them structure what they were doing into the relevant sprints and break it down into achieveable tasks.

But here I sit with my very own personal version of the same problem and a whole raft of proven solutions that for some reason I can't turn into results.

This article was updated on Sunday, 27 November 2022


Father, Husband, Guitar player, Piano-learner, Xbox-player, Metal-listener, infosec leader WIP.