Why can't I finish anything?
I thought I'd write about something today that has been affecting me a lot recently and making me feel pretty stressed and burnt out and that is the fact that I just can't seem to finish anything. This doesn't apply to client work by the way, I always finish that, probably because I know that it's someone else that's relying on me, the things I'm struggling to finish are my personal projects/ideas.
This has been going on with me for a while, I've always enjoyed doing personal projects, I run my own clothing brand which is basically a big personal project and I used to constantly have some other idea in production wether it was fan art or a new species of characters I'd thought of. Since the start of 2016 though, I've not really done any more personal projects, I've started them and come up with plenty of ideas, but after a couple of sessions sitting down and working on them I'll come up with a new idea and start working on that instead. It's not because the ideas aren't good enough, it's just that I need to focus myself better.
I came to realise this situation when I was sitting down to do my 3rd quarterly goal sheet (which is crazy by the way, where has this year gone!?) I realised that I'd not completed that many of my goals and that I'd not finished or even really made any significant breakthroughs on any personal projects (I can't seem to find the link for the goal sheet I use, I'll have to write my own post about it with photos at some point because it's super helpful). I knew that I'd watched a couple of videos about this sort of subject before on Jake Parker's channel (yet again) so I decided to go back, re watch those and then tackle my new goals with the information gained, the videos are below for those who'd like to watch.
Something that Jake does say in one of his videos (not sure if it's one of these two) is something like 'people want people who can finish things' which hit me really hard because I knew I hadn't been, I was also listening to a podcast the other day from a few months ago with Brett Bean where he was describing his process and he said something along the lines of 'I'm more about the concept and idea, I don't want to spend ages drawing this really intricate illustration'. That hit me again, because that's exactly what I do, which is where I think the internet comes into play again, because all you see is other people's amazing lives and fully fleshed out drawings and then think that that's how yours should be, even though you forget that you don't see everything else, including what and all the years of practise that went into that piece.
Anyway, back to the point! So I started redoing my goal sheet, writing out goals into different categories such as finance, family, health, career etc. (it's good to do this, goals shouldn't just be for your career). I realised that the personal projects I'd been setting myself were just too big, such as 'illustrate a comic', how could I possibly do this, happily and confidently when I've only ever illustrated the odd comic page in the past? It was just too much for my brain to process. So instead I decided to write down a list of personal project ideas, that would take a month each, so by September I could have 3 personal projects done. So I started making these notes, and guess what, I couldn't finish it! My brain was just constantly wandering and thinking about the next thing and it drives me insane!
Some illustrations/ideas for projects that I started & never actually finished the full project -
The next day I pulled myself together and got it done. But it was a massive wake up call to me that I haven't properly finished a personal project or created a product in so long, and it's not that I can't it's just that there's so much going on around me all of the time that my mind is constantly being distracted.
So my goals are set, and my main goal is to achieve all of my goals on the sheet. The goals this time round are attainable, I have no excuses, all I need to do is stay focused. I'm going to share my personal project goals with you below so that I've said it out loud (kind of) and so that I feel like I have someone to call me out if I don't do them! I've set 3 so that I can spend around a month on each.
1. Draw 100 birds - I've already started this, I'm nearly halfway through and it's something I can just go back to when I feel like it. I would ideally like to do a small print run of a book of this once I'm finished, maybe colouring a few and fleshing some designs out more to include too.
2. Create a set of character sheets for a world or species - I've also sort of started this too, I have developed a world in one of my sketchbooks, but again, I've spend months sketching out little ideas, making notes and thumb nailing thinking 'ooh this will be a really cool project' but then I haven't actually created anything from it. So I'm forcing myself to do a set of character sheets of the characters that would inhabit this place, I want to do 8 altogether, no excuses, they just have to get done.
3. Create a new set of images for my personal brand - I want to create new social icons, banners, logos for invoices/terms & conditions/contracts and a banner for my online store (which I plan on opening just after). I've been wanting to do this for a while but it's something that just gets left to the side whilst I work on other things, but I think it'll be really fun and something that I really need to do as it's been too long since I did anything like it and my site needs it!
Now that I've publicly shared these, I definitely feel more motivated & determined to get them done, because you guys can hold me accountable now! I rarely share my goals, not because I'm embarrassed but because I know I might not finish them.
I thought I'd share this today because I sort of treat this blog not only as an outlet to share what I've learnt with you guys, but also to document it for myself so that I cane come back and read what I've written and feel better about it again, and I do often come back and read my own posts, it's not here just incase I need to come back.
So, if you're feeling the same sort of way, stuck in a rut and don't know where to go next, set yourself some quarterly, monthly and weekly goals, start small, so even if it's just 'finish 'x' illustration', once you've finished it you will have one goal ticked off and feel motivated to move on to the next. Just don't do what I did and set something ridiculous that will take tonnes of time, leave you feeling drained of creativity and back at the bottom. Don't forget to share your goals too! I think that is something that will definitely help me in the long run!
Thanks for reading and feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments!
The header image for this is for one of the character sheets for project no.2 by the way!