When to Finish Designing.

This small moment between dragging yourself and stopping yourself.

Luke Fecko
4 min readOct 17, 2020
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

When finishing today’s design I was noticing, how I am looking at it from apart. You know the kids do that when they look from side to side. I was thinking about going for a meal or continuing doing it. You give it a touch here and there, and that’s probably a moment where you should stop and continue after a meal.

A teaching from a Master

The first time I came across this idea was when watching GQ video with a Japanese designer. He was telling a story how when he was creating a chair, he went to show it to the master, and asked: “Now, how do I finish it?” and his master said: “That’s it, it’s finished.” He was a bit perplexed because the chair was finished like halfway through. Now he is sharing this teaching too.

And I was looking for that moment, or trying to teach myself how to notice it. However, I had a hard time with anxiety so it wasn’t easy. “Are you sure?” question, that usually arise right after the first look. And if you are not, well you drag yourself into it. This mindless designing, and loss of aliveness while creating. It’s feel like you’re lost and want to find yourself with some action.

I was thinking: “There needs to be some way how you can create and feel when to stop.” All the big artist they probably didn’t use a pomodoro technique when to stop. It’s when you start a timer on 25 minutes. This technique didn’t work for me. Sometimes I was feeling this “Let’s continue,” and stopped harshly and sometimes the opposite. The pomodoro I would say it’s great for starting. Gives you a frame of mind that it would last 25 minutes so you would not destroy yourself dragging to do it longer.

So the time measuring wasn’t a thing, I did follow. I still use it, experiment with it, but I didn’t want to use exactly the 30 minutes or whatever.

When I draw, and there comes a moment which is really subtle. You look at it, there is like the fuel from creation is empty, and you’re experiencing the first glance onto what you actually did. That’s the moment that Japanese design master said it’s when you should stop.

I think, I wasn’t there when they were having this dialogue, okay?

When not to stop.

Now let’s see the moments when you shouldn’t stop.

The first one is even before you start. When you think about it. There can come this overwhelming feeling of being lost. Where you don’t even know what jungle of creation you should enter. This moment is accompanied as you could guess with anxiety. And at that moment, I would suggest it’s not when to stop, it’s actually to see and notice that you are lost. And there is nothing else you need to do, just find yourself.

An obstacle

Now you are in the jungle of creation and you stumble upon an obstacle. You trump over how your creation look like and feel frustration. “Ah come on! That’s not what I wanted.” Experiencing this raging energy you may even stand up from sitting, and throw a tantrum. I did it couple of times till I can look at the display again. Here you probably experience again the feeling of being lost. But this time it’s about how to approach it. How to do it again that it align with this idea that is living in your imagination. Use this raging energy to propel you and not to put you off.

Granted there comes situation, when it’s so overwhelming that it would be destructive. I just go outside, and walk it out. Sometimes even inside I just walk, and let the chaos of thoughts settle down a bit. So I can see clearly again the path and direction where I want to go.

I see all that I write here as a seed. Those ideas are there to be fertilized by your feelings and experience. So don’t engage yourself with hesitation in front of the land of chaos. Just go, you would find it along the way. And maybe then you would experience an insight of: “Oh yeah, I got what you mean.”

So have a nice Christmas. What? In ads, they say it in advance, a lot of times. I’m wishing it now too. And a lot of wisdom when to actually stop.