When was the last time you failed at something? I just failed at the DIY post I shared this week. If you watch my Instagram Stories the week before you’ve seen my frustration. However, if you work in the creative business or have a creative hobby, failing is an essential part. One can never create something new and original if you’re afraid of failing. This sounds more dramatic that it actually is. Normally it just goes like this:
- I have an idea.
- I execute it.
- It’s not working or looking the way I want.
- I swear.
throwput it aside.
- It bothers me for some time that it didn’t work.
- I have an idea that could work.
- I execute it.
- It works or repeat from 3.
The problem is not failing. Although it gives me a much better feeling when something works. But first of all: I learn more when it’s not working because it makes me think deeper. Second: things get better.
So what’s the problem with failing? It takes time. I have to have another idea, test it, try it and repeat if it’s still not working. It’s frustrating. I’m all enthusiastic when I have an idea and it’s depressing to see it’s fail.
I’ve listened to a talk last weekend about successful failing and the lecturer said (and it resonated with me): the problem is not failing, the problem is trying to make something work that’s not working at all. Meaning if you try to fix it or justifying it just to avoid admitting that it’s not working. Which is basically failing expensively and for a long time. The key is to fail fast and cheap. Test a part of your idea and adjust the parameters if it could be better. The idea might still be good but not (part of) the execution.
So don’t be afraid of failing. Be afraid of not admitting you do.
So in my opinion the creative process should look like this:
I guess what I’m trying to say is: failing is not failure. There’s a big difference. Failing is part of the (creative) process – an essential part of making something new and original, something good. Failure is to give up on the idea just because you ran into obstacles. Sometimes I just have to adjust the parameters and try again. Sometimes I just need some distance, different opinions and a new approach.
And nothing can trump the feeling when an idea finally works after going through some troubles. Like with these storage jars or with this copper side table. They are now my favorite DIY projects.
Now. Carry on!