Progress Through Perseverance
We have all been to a position where we’ve spent hours working on a project but nothing would feel better than to crumple up that piece of paper or to, “not save changes,” in the fiercest of rages and curse defiantly at our presumed escape from a perceived failure. But what could have been? Maybe we were just on the cusp of a breakthrough, and not just simply one that overcomes the recent obstacle, but possibly a very educational and skill effecting one; one that could save us from a similar problem for all time. Okay, maybe that’s a little grandiose, but the point is still true. Sometimes, before we tear up hours of work and dance around the trashcan holding the burning remains, we need to take a step back, and enact some processes that may save our efforts. Here are some of the things I do most when I have hit my limit for struggling on a project.
Take a break, get a drink of water and/or a bite to eat. Maybe we are started out, “in the groove,” and didn’t want to disrupt our good fortune, and so skipped lunch, now we’re just low on calories and need a little pick-me-up. Maybe we’ve been staring at this too long, and literally our eyes, and mind are tired and a nap is in order or at the least a change of scenery and lighting. It’s your chair! No, not your chair? Maybe it’s something else related to how you are positioned at your workstation.
Still not helping? After you’ve tried things that are related to your body or mood, it’s time to move onto the things at hand. Is your reference lacking? A few quick photos of a friend or shots of yourself in a mirror can give you the reference that the internet would only cough up after an hours long search. Try flipping your image. This will trick your mind into looking at the same image but see different shapes and areas of color. Maybe your reference is good, but maybe your materials or process are flawed. Maybe you need a higher quality paint to get you a pigment that otherwise goes muddy when trying to mix to it.; maybe your brushes are old, and aren’t getting you the line you want etc.
Okay, so you’ve got your great reference, you’ve used jedi-mind-tricks on yourself, and dropped some cash on new materials but it still isn’t working out? Maybe it’s time for a colleague, teacher/professor, spouse/significant other, family member, friend. neighbor etc. to take a look. A second (or more) set of eyes can help to see things that you’ve become numb to, but are still impacting your project. A word of caution, even the most educated and accomplished soul can still ruin a project. Not all advice needs to be heeded here, but rather just taken under advisement, with some grains of salt. You can learn a lot about what you’re working , but you can also come away with very contradictory, baseless, or even down right bad input.
So now, we’ve rested, ate, checked our reference, used magic, spent money, talked to everyone on our block and on our friends list, used the best critiques, but still it makes you want to punch a rainbow kitten cowboy riding a baby unicorn? It might be time to set it aside and out of sight for at least a few days. Move on to the next project and come back to it a different day. Don’t think about it, pull it out to look at it, talk about it, etc. Do nothing with it or related to it for a few days. Get some distance from it, maybe you’ll encounter someone/thing that will click the next time you pick this up.
If an extended break doesn’t work, maybe it is time to scrap it and start over, as heartbreaking and defeating as that can be. You’ve given it you’re all, and ultimately, you’ll get more out of a positive mind-set than you will forcing something that just isn’t working. You can however, hang on to that piece, and return to it at any time. Maybe it had some redeeming elements, or some learning points that can be used for later efforts; It is always possible that you will learn something months or years later that can bring this back from the brink.
So keep pushing, don’t trash your investment in time prematurely; Go make a list of some things that you’ll try the next time you want to bail on a hopeless project and enact them to try to save that project, who knows, it could be your masterpiece.
What are some things you do when your get frustrated with a project?