Abysmal project completion rate

I had the idea recently to transcribe the Tetris CD-i soundtrack by Jim Andron for piano. I could have fun playing through the songs and then share the enjoyment by putting the scores online. If I do end up finishing this side project, I’ll post about it here.

Screenshot from Tetris CD-i: a monolith with Tetris on it in a meadow, with a mountain in the background
The whole Tetris CD-i game has incredible vibes, by the way

After having the idea, I spent a couple hours working on the Level 0 track. The basic pattern was easy enough to transcribe, but after the initial success, it turned into a bit of a slog. I wanted to capture all these neat details and extra pieces of instrumentation in the track, and figuring out how to incorporate them into the piano part wasn’t easy. After thinking about it some more, I decided I could stick with a simpler version that focused on the piano part, if it meant I made a better rate of progress.

After that, I just never got back to the project. It’s not that I couldn’t return to it, but now there’s been a definite break from the initial burst of energy that made me want to do the project. I still like the idea, but I just don’t feel like doing it in the way I did before, and I see no reason to force myself to do it when it’s not really a priority. In order to feel it again, I’d have to get back in touch with my original motives for doing it and kind of get past that “activation energy” threshold that makes it hard to pick up a project.

I have many such examples of side projects, either on hold or basically abandoned. In fact, I could probably write a whole post just taking inventory of my project graveyard (I think I will tomorrow). I do regret not finishing certain projects, or I think that I’d like to still come back to them sometime.

But a lot of times, it seems like completion isn’t really what I’m after. I always learn a lot from starting a project, and I have a lot of fun fleshing out ideas even if they don’t always pan out. Sometimes, the partial remains of a previous project can be rolled into something new (e.g., I abandoned a translation project and then used one of my texts for a choral piece).

If I were to set a goal for myself, I think I’d like to become someone who can choose whether to complete a given project or not, and stick to that. I know not all projects are for completing, but I would like to be able to say “yes, this matters enough to me”, and do what I had to to make it happen. This year I’m making progress with setting & achieving daily goals. Maybe there’s a way to take that ability to commit and apply it to some of my old projects.

Do you have some abandoned or on-hold projects? What is your side project completion rate like? Do you have any techniques for committing to the ones you really want to see through? Let me know your thoughts at my Ctrl-C email: gome ​@ ​ctrl-c.club.