For the last two weeks I have been neck-deep in a task, fighting against the deadline which, by the way, had already been extended. I was working on a videopoem of approximately 18 minutes, a collage of excerpts from songs and poems, with images in the background. Put that way, it does not seem like a job that will need the full attention of the team. The problem is that my team consists of only one person: myself.
Depending on who you have by your side, working alone can prove to be a huge advantage, but the process is often quite tiring. And, of course, it gets worse if you get too caught up in the details, as I tend to be. It is a problem I have not only as a content producer, but also as a consumer: I pay too much attention to details.
Is the audio loud and clear enough or can you still her me breathing? Is the music coming in at the right time? Is the fade out too long? What if I remove the final 0.3 seconds of that video clip? Details that certainly an inattentive spectator would never notice, but that worry me and prevent the project to be considered concluded, until I reach the desired point.
I do not remember if it was a colleague or a professor from the my PhD days who said: you do not finish writing a a thesis you simply abandon it at some point. I think this comment also applies to the process of mixing an album (face it: you will never achieve the “ideal mix” you have in mind) or reading a book.
Am I suggesting you should quit your readings before reaching the end? No. I have already done that, and the feeling is terrible, I do not recommend it at all. On the other hand, I certainly do not recommend my reading methods either. They inlcude, for instance, deciding in the middle of page 157 to return to page 80, because I just remembered a delightful character quip, and I would like to enjoy it one more time. Yet again.
This is exactly my problem now. I am stuck on volume three of In Search of Lost Time by Proust precisely because the book is so good. And, of course, you could say that it is not about the time it takes you to read from cover to cover, but rather the pleasure of reading. Ok, agreed, but even this pleasure can be put to the test if you cannot set a pace for reading.
The problem with getting too caught up in the details is that eventually you will forget about the main plot. Focusing on details is great, and a neat execution is even better, but for every project there is a sweet spot to be reached. Your mission is to get there or, in some cases, as close as possible.
Trying to reinvent that sweet spot over and over is a huge waste of time. It will only prevent you from getting involved in other projects or, even worse, it will make you miss some deadlines. Remember: an imperfect project, however duly entered in a call, is infinitely better than a project kept in a file, lost in the memory of your computer.
Be seeing you!