No, I’m not saying try “to” fail. If you have been there trying to do creative work, you know that you will create a lot of failures along the way to some good work. In creative work we often do not clearly know where we are going. That leads to a lot of failed experiments and dead ends. When we try and fail, is that bad?
Our attitude about failure will have a lot to do with our results. A reality for many of us is that, if we are not failing, we are not stretching ourselves and developing new skills or vision. As creatives we cannot play it safe. We have to be risk takers.
I love a quote from a blog by Benjamin Hardy. He was talking about Molly Bloom and said “The moment you realize you can try and fail — and that everything will be okay — then you are free to create.“
This is a liberating event in our creative journey. Failure isn’t final. Failure leads to growth. When you fail, no one comes and takes away your camera or your brushes. No one even laughs at us. Realizing we can fail and go on with no consequences frees us to try without worrying much about failing.
Learn by doing
We don’t upgrade our skills and exercise our creativity just by thinking about it. We have to take action. But just taking random action will usually lead to random, unwanted results. We need a way to follow a path that will take us to desired results.
You are probably familiar with the “do it, try it, fix it” loop. It goes by different names, but the concept is pretty much the same. This is an excellent process for improving things.
The basic idea is you try something new. Then you evaluate the results, Was it a success or an improvement? Decide what, if anything, you want to keep of this experiment to incorporate into your tool set. Then, based on the evaluation, plan what to try next. That becomes the basis of the next experiment. It is important to realize this is a cycle, meaning it continually loops and repeats.
At the evaluation stage many experiments may be tossed out. They did not take us in the direction we want to go. It was a failure, but that does not mean we failed. We just tried something that we decided didn’t work for us.
This is part of a process. It is a deliberate plan to systematically push the limits. To do that, we will try a lot of things that don’t work out satisfactorily. The failures are expected, planned even. Not something to be ashamed of. We should be happy to know we tried. Now we are free to do another experiment in a different direction.
Freedom is at the core of the process. We are not just trying random things and mostly being disappointed with the results and insecure with our creativity. Instead, we are following a deliberate process of improving our self and our art. And knowing we can try anything with no fear of failure is extremely liberating.
It is easy to get discouraged and think of our self as the failure. We have probably all felt like a fraud who has no right considering themself an artist. Remind yourself that we have to change and grow creatively, and to do that requires a lot of risk taking and failed experiments. Following a process like outlined above makes it a methodical plan. It help us keep in mind that the failure is not a personal failing but a necessary and expected outcome of the growth process. It can be exciting. We can risk more when the fails are not catastrophic.
The image with this article is an experiment. It is probably not what it appears to be. I will leave it to you to decide if it was a failure. I have my own evaluation.