How detached can you get from your creation?

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I attended a code retreat today. As part of the sessions, we were asked to design a solution and write code. At the end of the 45-minute session, the instructor would have us delete all our work. Then the next session would begin, and we would go through the same process again. Brainstorm, code, delete. Not a single line saved.

We had five such sessions. Each time I saw myself getting closer to a more elegant solution. And each time, there was heartbreak when I had to delete my work. At the end of the last session, I was contemplating a rebellion by keeping my work saved. Of course, I didn’t really rebel.

I found it tough to let go. I have read this several times – Never fall in love with your work. Create, get done, and then detach yourself from your creation. Easier said than done. Yet, each time I did delete a solution, it drove me to create something better. It was agonizing yet also cathartic to let go and start anew.

Ok, so here are my questions. As a creator, have you been in such a situation? Did you have to abandon something you did (even if it was one of your better works) and then start all over again? How did it make you feel?

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4 comments on “How detached can you get from your creation?

  1. Susan says:

    Well, one incidence comes to my mind…
    During my stint as a qualitative researcher.. I wrote a presentation which I believed at that point of time to be the best I had written… Was very proud of it, got good comments from my boss and I was on cloud 9.
    The next day, my boss called up and told me, she feels there are some holes in the ppt.. To figure the answers to her questions, I had to go back to the transcripts and ended up discovering that my entire ppt was one sided…
    Needless to say, I spend the next 3 nights, looking at the data again and rewriting the presentation.. 🙂
    I felt really bad while I was going through this ordeal… but after that, I always check my work twice, before I submit it… so that I don’t have to go through recasting everything I have spent my time and energy creating…

  2. Suchitra Chandran says:

    ohhhh I totalllyy get that feel 😀
    there were 2 instances when that happened
    the first was when i attended a code retreat 😀 but i loved deleting it cos i couldnt code much so I would happily delete it at the end of the 45 mins of torture
    but the other time that happened it was terrible..i had been working crazy on figuring the math behind an algorithm and finally when i figure it my mentor tells me “oh its too complex to be implemented” and in my head the conversation was ” no u did not say that” and then i was almost in tears 😀 when my mentor asked me if i was ok..i wudnt be human if i was 😀
    and den i took the day off..a nice bubble bath..some good food and yash chopra movies 😀 i was back in action the next day 😀 😀

  3. I think it has happened to all of us, at some time or the other. But it is true. If you know when to cling on, and when to let go – code for sure (despite not being a programmer by profession) but life in general is easier. Much much easier.

    In years past, I’d find this very hard to do. More in life than in code. Nowadays it is a cinch most times. It hurts for an hour or so maybe, but if I’m convinced that it is the right road – I do it.

    On an utter tangent, this post takes me back again and reminds me of all those conversations we used to have. Good times. Mostly 😉

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