The doldrums

In most things that I work on, I’ve noticed a pattern—I tend to work on the small, initial exciting bit with great energy and gusto, and as soon as that’s done I get bored. That time between when the proof of concept works and when the project’s shiny enough and out the door, when the wind drops out of my sails, I call that the doldrums.

A few weeks ago I wrote about mind mapping, and after that I started working on a tool that I think will better fit my needs, called Synaptograph. It’s pretty close to “version 1 done”, but it’s missing a few boring things like a nice title page, a ‘share’ button, undo/redo, and moving multiple nodes at once. And I haven’t worked on it for two weeks, because I’m in the doldrums, just drifting. I want to finish it. None of those things is particularly difficult. I know what the next action is. But that unstoppable force that pushed me to get the project to where it is now has deserted me. I no longer think about the project constantly, it’s not what I want to do every spare moment I have. It’s turned from effortless and joyful to drudgery.

I’m not sure what to do about this pattern. All projects have more and less interesting parts, subjectively at least, so it’s not like I can just dodge the issue by only working on interesting things. I could lower my bar for ‘done’, and just release things when I get bored with them, but that doesn’t really feel OK to me.

Perhaps there’s a lesson from incremental progress I still haven’t internalised.

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