How do you decide when to throw out a creative project instead of finishing it? Is there ever a right time to quit? Every artist will face this eventually. Most of the time the hardest thing an artist can do is sit down and do the work. It’s easy to quit, but it’s a small, everyday act of bravery to pick up the tools each day.
Sooner or later though, there will be a project that must be set down. Not every project should be completed. But what’s the difference between the projects that deserve the grind, and those that don’t? You may not have enough skill for the task, yet. Maybe the premise is not very interesting after all. Or maybe, someone else did it much, much better.
Many artists face their fears each day by creating. There is no true art that does not come from the soul, and publishing or releasing anything is an act of vulnerability that can be terrifying.
So, the next time you are faced with the question of continuing on or not, be honest: Do you really believe in this? Is there a purpose in your work that you believe in? If so, keep going. If not, quit! And then make something you believe in instead.
Last week I faced this very dilemma, and wrote about it in the latest issue of my newsletter, The Narrative.
The latest issue of my newsletter The Narrative is out! This issue continues a series on conflict in stories, and looks at how Victor Hugo used conflict to set his main character on a different path in Les Miserables. Check it out!
“Art, a friend of mine is fond of saying, does not owe you anything. You might want a movie to contain a specific scene, or to end with your preferred conclusion. But that isn’t what art does. Art exists to challenge us, to make us see the world in a new way.” @alissamarie at Vox
There is something satisfying holding a physical product in your hands after years of work debating, tweaking, and formalizing. And when it’s a clear and precise style guide to help writers and editors be clear and kind? Even better.
There are days when words come quickly, the ideas are exciting, and an assigned word count feels like a trip around the corner. Today is not that day. Slow, painful, and doubt-ridden words have made it a cross-country road trip in July in a crappy car with no A/C.
Is there a better romantic comedy than When Harry Met Sally? I don’t think so. Why does it work so well? Why is it practically genre-defining? I’ll tell you: conflict. Stories don’t work unless there is a meaningful conflict at their heart. It’s a universal rule of storytelling. (And no, I’m not impressed by the “exceptions.”) But the conflict in When Harry Met Sally works well on three levels. The intellectual conflict—the conflict of ideas—in this movie is golden. An age-old debate that everyone has an opinion on: can men and women be friends? Sally says yes, but of course Harry says no. Because, you know, “the sex stuff gets in the way.” The rest of the film works hard to answer that question. Every moment of conflict in the movie argues the point one way or the other. It’s brilliant.
Curious about how this all works? Check out my discussion of the conflict in this film in the latest issue of my new newsletter.
Preparing fuel for the final push this week. One rough draft deadline, another revision deadline, and closing out a third project. It’s been a great week!
One my favorite things about Apple Music is their Essentials playlists. They are a great reminder of why I loved bands that aren't in my regurlar rotation. Some days a good Essentials playlist like this one for the Silversun Pickups is just right.
This is 100% correct: “3 Reasons Pastors and ‘Authors’ Should Never Plagiarize.” Good work, @davidkakish.
I’ve been doing some research on email newsletters recently, and found some that I really like. A few I even look forward to each week. Do y’all have any suggestions for great ones I might be missing?
Substack has taken a series A round of funding. Paid email newsletters are one of the only models in which a tech provider’s incentives align with a writer’s. I’m not using Substack, but I want to see them, and the model, flourish.
One of the best parts of parenting is how often I’m reminded what’s it’s like to see the world through the eyes of a kid. I hope one day to be as content with the simple things as she is.
Amazon Sold $240K of ‘Liturgy of the Ordinary’ Fakes, Publisher Says. This is a massive problem that Amazon seems to be largely ignoring. Their marketplace already devalues the work of creatives, and this shows it clearly.
This podcast episode is a sobering look at the demographic decline of Christians in America. It’s a view from the outside that is important. We should listen and consider how our failure to look like Christ has driven much of it.
There is a feeling I get when writing the first draft a scene that I’ve been thinking about and planning for a long time. And when it’s an action scene the adrenaline rush I get always surprises me. I love that feeling.
This is a dangerous idea. Saddling a new marriage with debt (probably on top of student loans) is a recipe for stress, disunity, and disaster: Wedding loans are financing already indebted Americans
“[George] Will has produced one of the best books about American conservatism ever to have been written, and he deserves better enemies.” Insightful review: George F. Will deserves better enemies