Friday, 1 May 2015

Don't leave things unfinished

Have you ever had the feeling that you have left something unfinished? When I was in my early twenties I wrote a piece for brass band that played on my mind for years and years. I would repeatedly go back to it, read through its score, listen to it, play it and variously tinker with it, but whatever I did I could not get rid of its mental itch.

Then one day something clicked into place within my mind. I went back to the score and added a few bars to the very end of the piece. The piece felt finished and the itch disappeared.

Many musicians demonstrate this compulsion to finish things off. Composers and musicologists put immense effort into completing works that the great composers left unfinished. Performers and conductors devote years to preparing and performing complete cycles of a composer’s work.

In fact completing things, finishing things off in a satisfying way is a deep need within most of us and fulfilling it is essential to effective creativity and innovation. Every time we ignore the nagging call of an unfinished idea the greater the danger of it fading away, leaving only a glimmer of a suspicion that something of value has been lost.

Do not ignore the nagging call of your unfinished ideas. Go back to them. Look them over and identify what you need to do to finish them off. You will then begin to realise their potential value and eventually feel the satisfaction and fulfilment that comes of a job well and truly done.

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