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I relate to this deeply as a creative person. I'm in the middle of trying to bootstrap some businesses this year, and the act of creating these things is such torture sometimes.

Which is weird right? I've left my day job, I'm doing exactly what I want to do, working on exactly what I want to work on, so it should be great all the time right? And yet the daily emotional sensations I feel while actually doing the work is usually a mixed bag. Every once in a while I'll have a fantastic day where I feel great about what I'm doing from start to finish, but sometimes just defeating the resistance within me and getting any trivial amount of work done is the best I can do.

A lot of it comes down to basic quality of many creative endeavors: starting is easy, and finishing is hard. You can start anything, but if you work for long enough eventually you arrive at this ugly middle place. The part of the journey where you start to notice all the warts and imperfections of what you're making, when your limits start to show themselves, when the picture of the thing in your mind starts to diverge from what you're realistically capable of doing. Seeing that, knowing that it was you who created all of that "crap," and _still_ pushing through it to get to the flawed, imperfect, compromised final product, THAT is tough.

I suspect this is what Adams was expressing: "Arthur Dent is a burk. He does not interest me." Or expressed differently: "This character I've created is starting to become ugly in his imperfections, and I feel like I'd rather throw the work away than continue with it."

If you're curious to read more, I write about these kinds of ideas in this part of a recent blog I wrote: https://startupinamonth.net/month-two-week-three/#flying-on-...!




> A lot of it comes down to basic quality of many creative endeavors: starting is easy, and finishing is hard. You can start anything, but if you work for long enough eventually you arrive at this ugly middle place. The part of the journey where you start to notice all the warts and imperfections of what you're making, when your limits start to show themselves, when the picture of the thing in your mind starts to diverge from what you're realistically capable of doing. Seeing that, knowing that it was you who created all of that "crap," and _still_ pushing through it to get to the flawed, imperfect, compromised final product, THAT is tough.

Reminded me of this excellent zenpencils comic illustrating Ira Glass' advice for beginners : https://www.zenpencils.com/comic/90-ira-glass-advice-for-beg...


What keeps me going is the deep knowledge that at the end of the day I will be happy I did it.

Same with running. Of course I hate the idea of getting up early or going out in the evening esp in bad weather. And of course first mile is horrible, horrible experience. But what keeps me running is this certainty and knowledge that it will get better ( as oxygen high kicks in and muscles stretch and body warms up ) and that I never and I really truly mean ever regretted I went for a run. Absolutely ever.

So my only job is to remove friction, get multiple types of clothes ready and near the door, not over do it and create bad experience and show up. Even if I have to lie to myself, put on running clothes and grab MP3 player and say I am just going for a walk. I know I just have to do that first mile.

It is same with my work. Of course it is hard at first. And scary. And I end up scanning job sites during breaks. But even when I create something, even something I don't like or even when project fails, I am still proud and happy I did it. Always. So I just have to show up and survive first 30 minutes.

There are still temptations you have to map out and avoid, and there are always bad days you have to be ready for. And every job has parts you don't like.

At the end of the day I do feel better than when I work anywhere else. I am not 9 to 5 kind a person. I am too anxious for that and I always end up doing free unappreciated overtime to make sure project gets done. So it is even financially better to work for myself.


Running is a good analogy for another reason. Lots of amateur runners push themselves way too hard, to the limits of perceived effort, especially early in a run. It's important to have a sustainable pace during a run, which actually means not pacing based on perceived effort and using other guides like heart rate. It should feel like you could be going much harder. (Edit: setting aside runs in training schedules meant to increase vo2 max, etc etc)


This is almost true, but not quite. I find I can do some creative things very, very quickly. They don't take much time or effort at all, and they're honestly pretty good.

Other projects take an obscene amount of time and effort. They're not necessarily better.

With the first type of project I don't care about the results. I'm just noodling around with various toys, trying out various things, following up if I think they look interesting. Sometimes good things fall out.

The second type is far more conscious. I'm working, checking, improving, iterating, trying to reach some kind of standard that is impressively high.

Most of the effort goes into overcoming self-criticism and self-consciousness. And it's not a surprise these tend to be longer-term projects with goals.

It would be interesting if there were a way to build businesses and websites that was basically just about experimenting and fooling around with no real costs, in time or money.

I wonder if that might not be more successful than we way we usually do things.


Its why I think so many people in the startup community say get users right away instead of making the perfect thing - those users interest and needs sustain you when you are just too bored and disgusted with all that crap.


> so it should be great all the time right?

For me at least, I think most of my "suffering" has come from expectations like this that are incongruent with reality. Who said it should be great all the time? I'm right there with you. I have add all sorts of expectations like this in life that when put to the test via my own experience, and the experiences of others, just don't add up.


I really appreciate this comment - when I was working on my old startup, I felt exactly the same way.

I quit my old job and was working on what I wanted to, and yet felt this resistance that I couldn't explain. The nagging doubts that I was doing the right thing, that it wouldn't be good enough, and the fact that it would be all o n me if things didn't work out.

It's definitely one of those mental roadblocks that's hard to explain until you've been through it.


As someone who has been susceptible to chronic depression, I understand completely. I've had to explore these nagging doubts with a good therapist to be able to get past them.

Motivation is still a black box for me. I have learned that of I'm not motivated, something is wrong.


As someone finishing the last touches on an MVP, I really relate to this. I've been at it part-time for almost a year, so I'm surprised to see you hitting this point after only two months. Good luck, I hope it gets better!


Rich Roll discusses this barrier in his podcast with Andrew Hiberman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwQhKFMxmDY




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