the dark night of [your project’s] soul

I think most of us are familiar with the experience of “the dark night of the soul” – that place where nothing has any meaning anymore, where it all seems hopeless and impossible.

I have also noticed that each project that we care about has its own dark nights. It starts out bright-eyed and hopeful, hits a few rocky patches, and then just descends into utter chaos and confusion. Many projects completely fall apart at this point and become abandoned.

There are two lessons I’ve learned in pulling my own projects out of these dark nights:

  1. Expect them. The amateur assumes that the initial excitement for a project will just keep increasing as they go, and are blindsided by the sudden fall into oblivion. The professional knows it is coming and prepares for it. This alone is sometimes enough to prevent the fall from happening, or at least to blunt its effects.
  2. Accept them. Once a project is having its dark night, fighting it will never work. The only thing left is to loosen your grip on the project and say, “okay, maybe this thing I care about is destined to fail. Can I accept that?.” Surrender it. From there, the stuck energy tends to beak apart and you can start to rebuild it.

The comforting thing is, the projects that go through difficulties and survive almost always end up more robust. Projects (and people) that know what it’s like to be knocked down are much more likely to survive in the long run.

So, even if they don’t end up being the best thing in the world like you envisioned, finish them, pull them out of their dark nights. They (and you) will be better for it.

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hi. this notebook is where i document the art / culture / ideas that are inspiring to me right now. it’s kind of like the warhol diaries without the warhol. this year, i am posting something every day.
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