In The Age Of Tangents, Intention Is Gold

How can we know when a project is ready? How can we allow distractions in and still get stuff done?

Marti Purull


a sculptor produces a huge vase in which he becomes trapped, surreal digital art — by DALL·E

A song is only finished when it is released. Once out there, it is the final product. Being public makes it definitive. Otherwise, the artist could tweak it endlessly, and so could the producer, and the mixing and mastering engineers. Often, the hardest part is to say something is ready because it is a lie — or rather, a fiction. Everything we create is only over when we deem it so, even if we could continue working on it.

Most creative jobs share this issue: when to decide the work is good enough to be final. The main danger is staying in the loop of iterative improvements. The trap is harder to dodge than we would like to think. We lack perspective: how can we know when something is done when we have been so close to it from the beginning? All we have experienced is the process — it is difficult to remember the beginning, never mind visualising the end. The more we work on something, the harder it becomes to accept that it may not be perfect. Indeed, we need improvements and reviews that lead to a better product. However, there is only so much one can rehearse before the performance, and only the performance will matter to everybody else for it is everything they will ever know.

When the field where we operate is vast enough, tangents lurk in the shadows, always ready to distract us from our set path. A feature here and a fix there, a new section or an idea for a subtle change are valid points that may delay the project indefinitely. We live in the age of tangents, and learning to surf them is critical.

To complicate matters further, some of the best ideas are found in such diversions. When we intentionally depart from the chosen road, our minds feel exceedingly adventurous. Alternatively, we may stop in the middle of the road and take a break, become bored and let our minds be as playful as they crave.

Intention and awareness are essential to use tangents instead of being used — and abused — by them.

Written while listening to ‘Under the Lilac Sky’ by Arushi Jain.

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Who am I, you ask?

I am a musician who writes and a writer who makes music. You can enter my world here.



Marti Purull

I’m a musician, but I think every day. So I write every day. Thoughts. Reflections. Life.