And here are the last four tips in the “completing creative projects” series!

9. Get strategic help.

You’re trying to finish up your independent film documentary but a handful of tasks stand between you and completion. Some of them are technical and require new learning; some are artistic but not in areas that you know well. You might be able to gain the technical expertise: but do spending the time on that and dealing with the stress of a steep learning curve outweigh the expense of hiring someone? You might be able to master the artistic part: but is learning to score your film the best use of your time or might it not be better to see if there are low-cost or free film scorers available who might help you? Part of us wants to do everything ourselves and retain complete control, but that stance can stop us in our tracks when we face tasks that we do not know how to handle.

10. Repeat what’s worked.

Say that you write novels and that you’ve had the following experiences. Each time you’ve had a clear picture in your mind about how a given novel ends you’ve successfully completed that novel. For some reason—on a whim almost—you decided that with your current novel you would only know how it ends “when you got there.” But you haven’t been able to get there and you’ve been stalled now for months. It’s your decision whether to adamantly and stubbornly stick to your whimsical decision or do what previously worked. Very often we get an odd idea in our head—say, the odd idea that it would be “cheating” to know how our novel ends—and get ourselves stuck for absolutely no good reason. If something has worked for you in the past, please consider doing it again. And by the same token, avoid doing what hasn’t worked!

11. Visualize completion and success.

It pays to picture success. If you’re writing a symphony, get a clear picture in mind of an orchestra playing it. If you’re painting a suite of paintings, visualize them on the walls of an upscale gallery. If you’re working on a screenplay, enjoy the prospect of a Hollywood opening night, red carpet and all. Likewise, visualize abundance as your body of work grows: picture your current novel joining other novels of yours on a bookcase shelf, your current CD joining other CDs of yours in a handsome CD case. Most importantly, visualize you completing your current project: see yourself putting that last period on your manuscript and, with a smile of pride on your face, getting up from your computer. Picture both, success and completion!

12. Show up.

Virtually every question connected to completing your creative project is answered by the act of showing up. It may not be answered in one day; on a given day you may sit there, paralyzed and defeated, as nothing comes to you. On a given day you may go backwards or sideways. But if you show up again the next day, and the next day, and the next day, the ice is likely to thaw, the horizon is likely to become visible, and real progress is the likely outcome. No alcoholic is told, “You only need to go to one AA meeting. That’s plenty!” Nor should any creative imagine that showing up to his work only occasionally is sufficient. Institute a regular practice; do the work; and, while completing your creative projects may not be guaranteed as a result, you can take it to the bank that you will have dramatically upped your odds of success.

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