10: How to Finish Your Overdue Project

This week on the podcast, we discuss what it takes for a creative to finally part ways with his or her project. We talk about helpful ways to get your idea to the finish line and why criticism is so hard to hear.

Check Your Output (2:52)

It’s important to DO stuff and not just talk about it. We discuss why it’s easy to consume creativity without contributing any. Michael suggests considering your own input/output ratio.

Step One: Start (5:50)

Why is it so hard to execute an idea? We talk about how perfect our ideas seem at the time until we actually start working on them. Will challenges the most frequently used excuse by creatives: “I don’t have time!”

Step Two: Make an Outline (9:09)

Make a pencil sketch, a mood board, or a wireframe to get your idea on paper. Even if it’s not perfect, a rough outline will organize your thoughts and set your course for the project.

Step Three: Finish the Rough Draft on a Deadline (11:15)

The first draft of anything is sh*t” – Ernest Hemingway

There’s a big difference between accomplishment and success. We discuss how difficult it is to finish something only to realize it isn’t any good. This happens to creatives all the time. But we can be proud of the accomplishment while understanding there’s still a long way to go.

Step Four: Revise, Revise, Revise (16:10)

Take some time after the first draft to start revising. We recommend two weeks in-between drafts. Michael tells a story about a professor that deletes all of his student’s first drafts.

Step Five: Get Feedback (19:15)

Get notes from other writers. But don’t go to everyone you know with your first draft. It’s important to know that your readers only get one first impression of your script. So space out your feedback. Will discusses how to take criticism while Michael stresses the importance of clarity on the page.

Step Six: Create A Drop-Dead Date (23:12)

When you’re in striking distance of finishing, set a final deadline. It’s also important to get accountability for this. This is the step where a lot of creatives get caught in limbo. They continue to refine their project because they’re actually too scared to move on.

Step Seven: Let It Go (25:00)

Your project is all grown up and it’s time to let it go. This step can be hard when you’re so attached to it, but in this industry, you have to honor your investors by delivering the product you promised. Michael makes a Paul McCartney reference for clarity.