How to Finish That Creative Project You’ve Been Putting Off

Whats in this story

Side hustles are the new thing.

Plenty of millennials have begun seeking more than just the traditional 9-to-5 job, hoping to translate their passion into some sort of additional income. Many call this the side hustle; something you do under moonlit skies to try to keep the dream alive.

For many people this might be a creative project. It could be writing a book, painting a masterpiece, or diving into a creative hobby that gets sold on Etsy. But regardless of what it is, finishing your project is never easy. You sit down with a pen and a pad and you have no clue how you’re going to get your entire project out there into the world.

But I’m going to tell you the most important  thing you need to do to finish your project easily. Here it is. You ready?

Simply, you have to start.

I know. Sounds dumb and easy and overly simplistic, right? But it’s the only way to ever finish anything.

I’ll give you an example with a project I just completed. On July 27, I began writing my latest novel, which I’m going to release this fall. Day one proved to be the hardest of them all, because it’s taking that scary first step into a world much bigger than the one we exist in. You’re diving into the deep end, forcing yourself to produce, produce, produce until you’re done. And it’s only then that you can come up for air.

Once I got going, I worked on my novel  tirelessly. It wasn’t until I was about 2,000 words in that I realized how much fun I was going to have with it. My fingers found the keyboard like magnets to metal, typing furiously fast because I had become ensnared in the project’s grasp.

This past Friday, August 18, I finished. An entire 80,000 word novel in 22 days. Not the quickest novel, but not bad either.

I know writing a book is different from a lot of other creative projects. But the principle still holds true: The best way to finish your project is always to start it.

And listen, you have to come to terms with the fact that you’re going to fail. Your project will suck when you first start putting it together. First drafts, first sketches, mock-ups, prototypes — they all suck. They’re all sub-par versions of your initial project.

But you can’t rebuild, reshape or redesign something into a masterpiece until you have that first draft. It’s the only way you can get your mistakes out of the way and fix them for the future.

Anyone who’s been successful at anything will tell you that practice defined their experience. Practice is what pushed them to succeed. Practice made them perfect. You can’t start from day one and get hung up on the idea that you’re going to fail. Too often people hold off from kickstarting their project because they’re worried that failure awaits them in the future. You need to take steps forward immediately. Push yourself and find the time to begin. Because it’s only then that you can hold the first mold of your project, one you can later reshape into exactly what you want.

It’s scary. You will find yourself up late at night with worry that your brainchild will be unsuccessful. You will think about how none of this matters. How you won’t make any money, and you’re going to fail and fail hard.

But I promise you. Those thoughts are nothing compared to the beautiful ones that will come your way. You will, at times, feel almost as though you’re standing in a shower of thoughts that spark creative genius. You will have a rush of accomplishment when you finish your first draft or sketch or prototype. You will feel honor and pride when someone asks you why you haven’t been going out and why you’ve been working so much.

Success at your side-hustle and creative projects takes time, patience and courage. But start right now. The first step is always the most laborious, but the journey ahead, full of paths both hard and easy, will be well worth it.