I have been thinking about all the many times I have crashed, given up, started over, tried again. I have been thinking about all the ways that I fall into a spiral of self loathing, and shame and how much this habit harms me.
The creative process includes accepting mistakes and learning to trust that they can lead to a surprise, an insight, a deeper understanding, or even a better idea than the one you started with.
But they can be accompanied by horrible self doubt and anxiety.
We have to learn to proceed despite these terrible feelings.
I have learned that nothing is going wrong when things don’t go right –in art and in life for that matter. I have learned to keep going in spite of feeling horrible and awkward and incompetent and afraid.
It’s a struggle sometimes but it’s worth it. Struggle is part of the process.
It was a hard lesson to learn and one I have to keep re-visiting.
Struggling with the work used to upset me so much that I couldn’t continue the work. I would procrastinate or give up all together. I didn’t know that struggling, making mistakes, doing badly at something, challenges the brain to accommodate the challenge. The brain actually grows with the concentrated effort. Trying and trying again and feeling frustrated and starting over builds the pathways that we need to eventually do whatever it is. Playing guitar? Writing a book? Learning to juggle? Draw? Speak a new language. The brain needs to work hard to get smarter.
Many of us are terrified of failure. And so we don’t try. We don’t push past our comfort zones. We hide. We procrastinate. We do anything to avoid it.
But failure is one of those necessary parts of creative development.Our failures teach us more than our successes. We have to learn from them. It’s like that wonderful quote from Samuel Beckett? “Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better”
Some people try to wait until they are not afraid of failing. But I think we can skip this step, because I don’t think it’s possible to lose this fear. We have to continue with fear as a constant companion sometimes.
As painful a lesson as this is to learn it is an essential one.
Make a thousand bad drawings and somewhere before you reach a thousand you will start noticing some pretty good drawings. The brain will use the struggle to grow the talent or the courage or whatever it is that you need.
Write a terrible first draft and you will write a better second one– or you won’t –but be aware that the third may be fantastic so if you are thinking of giving up-don’t and keep going. Keep struggling.
It’s part of the process.
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