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Being creative means that you’re going to fail. I’m sure you’ve failed many times. I have. Just like everybody else.

Creative types train themselves to accept failure and look at it as a way to get better. They see it as an opportunity. Otherwise they would quit. It would be emotionally damaging to tell yourself you suck every time you fail, because you will fail a lot. And then you will succeed.

That’s the process. Try. Fail. Succeed. Or as Samuel Beckett said:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Failing better means that you did that thing you’re trying to do, and you did it better than before. It’s still not perfect, but what is?


More failing

You never stop failing. The curse of creative types is that they see flaws in their work where others see perfection. Their strength is that they keep going. You have to really like doing this. And you have to redefine failure.

Thomas Edison failed hundreds of times before he invented the filament for the electric light bulb. His assistant asked why he kept doing it if all he ever did was fail. Edison said that he hadn’t failed. He had learned hundreds of things that didn’t work.

And then he made the thing work.

I like this quote from Townes Van Zandt: “I don’t think you can ever do your best. Doing your best is a process of trying to do your best.”

Samuel Beckett, Thomas Edison, and Townes Van Zandt – author, inventor, and songwriter. They all knew the secret: keep trying.


Perception shift

All of this takes a fundamental shift in the way you perceive the things that you make. Being creative allows you to watch yourself reacting to failure, and that helps you discover who you are. Not all of who you are. But pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

It’s hard to look. But the good news is that you get better. A better artist, a better, more interesting person. You go on more adventures, meet more people, have a more interesting life, because you’re not worried so much about screwing up.

Being creative isn’t just making stuff. It’s making yourself, and that happens by failing. Which, as it turns out, is succeeding.




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