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5 Ways to Get Through the Creative Red Zone

You know that last little bit that needs to be finished before you complete a project? Read this if your creative projects are stuck.

5 Ways to Get Through the Creative Red Zone

But you don’t have to lose the ball in the red zone. Here are some things you can do to get your projects wrapped up when Resistance is holding those last few yards:

1. Double-down by returning to the why of the project.

When we shift to the Hows and Whens of a project, it’s easy to lose sight of why we started in the first place. If it’s a project worth doing — and it almost always is — there are people who will be better off when you get it out there in the world. You’ll either have solved a standing problem or delighted them; either case means that the world is a little better because of what you’ve been doing.

2. Focus on getting it to good enough.

As Voltaire said, “Perfection is the enemy of good,” for no other reason than that perfection is unattainable, which means that if that’s your goal, you’ll never be done. The key to useful prolificness is understanding that getting something to good enough is the best we can do — we need other people to make our work excellent.

3. Know that the more it matters, the more it’s only a start anyway.

The more the project matters to you or the people who benefit from it, the more it’s only a start.

4. Understand that you’re usually working on your own mindset towards the end

We often think that we’re making the project better, yet we often have no yardstick for measuring how it’s better. An essential characteristic of the red zone is that we’re continuing to work but we’re not really getting anywhere; working on it more, then, is not going to get you any further. It’s just going to mean that you’ve logged more hours.

5. Do your work, then step away.

I’m one of the worst people about stacking the deck in my favor and ensuring that I get the outcomes I want. The problem, of course, is that there’s only so much you can do with creative work to ensure that it’s successful. If it’s overproduced, it fails worse than if it’s incomplete but true to the spirit of the project.

You’ll Always Have a Red Zone

The red zone never goes away if you’re really showing up. While I don’t want to give the impression that your great work has to be hard, it’s still true that if putting something out there in the world doesn’t scare you, you’re probably phoning it in. You can do better AND there’s a place for easy swings; just get real about what type of project this is for you. (Hint: if it’s “an easy swing,” that’s all the more reason not to hang onto it. Do it well, but get it done.)



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