10 January 2010


If I had to finish everything I started, I'd never start anything. For me, the freedom to stop creates the freedom to start.

Creative exploration and discovery necessarily involve trying some things that ultimately don't work out. The dead-ends and false-starts aren't waste. They are an important part of the process of learning and producing new things. For that matter, they're not really false starts. They are true-starts, in which I'm really doing something (and learning from it, etc). The fact that the link between a stopped project and a completed project isn't obvious to a casual observer doesn't mean the link isn't there.

For every article I actually publish, I probably start three or four. My computer is full of half-finished, half-formed articles, the fruitful detritus of my writing efforts. Because I don't force myself to finish and publish every article I start, I'm free to start writing all sorts of things, to explore ideas even if I don't know up front whether they'll work out. The freedom to delete is the freedom to create.

Without that perspective, I'd end up over-editing myself, only starting new things when I knew what the end would be. Hey, I'm all for beginning with the end in mind, but absolute conformity to that approach would make for a pretty tight leash. Sometimes you've got to just begin, even if you can't see the end from here.

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