There Are No Mistakes In Creative Endeavor, Here’s Why.

Our society is obsessed with the ideas of failure and success. Here I discuss why this represents a flawed mentality and what every…

Success Vs Failure: It’s one or the other…or is it?

Our society is obsessed with the ideas of failure and success. Here I discuss why this represents a flawed mentality and what every creative needs to do about it.

Our society is built on the notion of competition. Competition for limited resources. You either win or you lose, you either “get there” or you don’t.

If you don’t then you’re a failure… if you do then the world will pour plaudits over you.

“Hey don’t worry about it, if you fail you can start over, you can make it!”

So here’s this idea of goal attainment, one that we are conditioned to believe is righteous and proper for every member of our progressive society.

Once you are in the workforce, being productive, making a positive contribution towards the upkeep of the machine then you are a model citizen.

Made a mistake?

“Alright, no bother, we can forgive you. You can recover, get back on the horse. Just don’t make too many mistakes because then you’ll find it hard to get back up here where the rest of us are, striving. Once you’re making an effort it will be ok…one day you’ll make it…”

The idea that we can make mistakes is ridiculous to me. And as for the suggestion we can recover from our supposed mistakes, well that’s just reinforcing the insanity.

I know it’s prominent in our psyche but it shows a real inability to see the reality of life. The fundamental reality, not just the surface illusory reality of, stuff and cars and houses and shit, the stuff we all believe in.

Are you with me here?

The truth is that there are no mistakes — Period.

Mistakes mean failure at some level or other, and to most of society failure means you’re incapable, worthless, useless, less than normal, outside the circle.

It’s bollocks lads.

I don’t care if you’re a painter, poet, writer, plumber, corporate professional, barista, street sweeper or whatever, mistakes are other people’s ideas.

The idea we make mistakes is illusory and kills our creativity. The accompanying idea of success, the desireable flip side of failure is equally illusory and destructive of creativity.

This is why so many creative people burn up in business not long after starting out.

The business world is focused on results and numbers and everything right now.

Competition is the primary driver.

If you don’t get there first someone else will take your share, and so we believe this bullshit and get sucked into the rollercoaster ride…

success, failure, success, failure, success, failure… round and round we go.

Investing In The Outcome

I remember when I was 15 or 16, I just started my apprenticeship. I don’t know what I was doing, typical rookie stuff I suppose, when an older sparks I was working with said to me…

“Anything worth doing is worth doing right kid. Shortcuts are for wankers, or experts. There’s no inbetween.”

It stuck.

Although, I reckon I already had something built in that meant I gave a fuck about doing stuff right anyway.

Now of course the definition of “right” is one for debate. But to me it means being focused, bringing a high degree of attention to the detail to the task.

There is an investment in the outcome but that outcome is for my own sake. The easy road is not an option, in fact the longer the road the better.

Sure I fuck things up, but that’s part of the process.

Besides, fucking things up doesn’t mean I made a mistake — Like I said, there are no mistakes.

Going the long road means we get to know the thing. This is the 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell speaks of that we need to put in, in order to become an expert.

What we should be doing is setting up institutions and structures that allow people to spend the time and effort to reach mastery Malcolm Gladwell

To be an artist takes longer. It’s more like 20,000 hours to reach that point.

Let’s be clear…

This is not about ignoring a lack of technical ability in ourselves, or accepting below par workmanship, or not following what we are driven to pursue.

Rather I am promoting the idea that instead of following other people’s idea of what it means to live and to be successful, that we follow our own. We must do things for the sake of doing things.

I’m saying get outside your head and get into the thing.

  • Play music because you love it, pursue mastery because music is who you are.

  • Write because you are a writer

  • Play sports because you love the thrill of the game

  • Make coffee because you love the process

  • Rear you children because you love being a parent

  • Make jewellery because that’s your creative drive

I am promoting the idea that we forget about these bullshit polarities of success and failure and make stuff purely for the sake of making stuff.

This is the fucking dream lads! Nothing else matters. That’s why we are here.

I’m currently building out The Artist’s Manifesto. It’s a short and succinct detail of what I believe it means to be a creative person, an artist at whatever you choose to do. It’s about following your heart, creating things for the sake of it. Disregarding the opinions of others. Removing the investment in the outcome. We are Storymakers and we are here to tell a story through our art. The Artist’s Manifesto is a call to the heart of every creative make things with integrity and passion. Sound like you? The Artist’s Manifesto is due for release on 12th May. Signup to get a FREE copy.

Trusting The Creative Process

In all creative endeavour be that a business, sport, art or otherwise, there must be state of presence, a feeling of being really inside the thing.

We can’t possibly project ourselves into some kind of future and expect to create something worthwhile. It’s just not going to end well.

Now that kind of goes against some of the prominent thought around goal setting and planning, doesn’t it.

I mean, we’ve got to plan right? We’ve got to make it happen.

“If it is to be it is up to me” and all the shite.

Now that statement might hold some truth but I feel it has been bastardised by too many people who don’t know what it means.

It implies that we’ve got to force the world into submission. Pin the universe down by the throat and demand we get what we want.

You’re a creative person, you know that this doesn’t work.

We’ve got to be self directed.

Trust the process.

Taking other people’s ideas and expecting them to fit our stage of progress won’t work most of the time.

We’ve got to take the space and time to just wait.

To just do the work, create the thing simply for the sake of it and see where it takes us.

Creativity Is Not About Perfection, Yet It Is

Creativity is a bit of a double edged sword.

On the one hand striving for perfection is counter productive, it will almost kill the creative process from the start.

On the other hand, by just letting go of the need to be perfect we have the opportunity to create something great.

Now, be careful here, because the voice in your head will tell you that you should be planning, working towards getting it right.

This is especially so if you are building a small business around your skill or art.

Your mind is a dangerous bastard!

She’ll lead you down the wrong road and that can add lots of pain and difficulty if you listen to it.

On the other hand if we listen to the small voice, the quieter one, good shit happens.

I think it was an Oscar acceptance speech, Spielberg said he didn’t have a choice. It almost came up from behind him. The dream wasn’t out in front.

He said;

Sometimes a dream almost whispers, it never shouts…

When we bury ourselves in the creative process purely for the sake of it then hard or easy doesn’t come into it.

The irony of all of this is when we take what seems to be the hard road, the easy road eventually shows itself.

I’m currently building out The Artist’s Manifesto. It’s a short and succinct detail of what I believe it means to be a creative person, an artist at whatever you choose to do. It’s about following your heart, creating things for the sake of it. Disregarding the opinions of others. Removing the investment in the outcome. We are Storymakers and we are here to tell a story through our art. The Artist’s Manifesto is a call to the heart of every creative make things with integrity and passion. Sound like you? The Artist’s Manifesto is due for release on 12th May. Signup to get a FREE copy.

Originally published at larrygmaguire.com on May 6, 2017. This version has been edited and updated for Medium

Howdy, I’m Larry, Writer & Artist. Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. I write short stories about the ordinary lives of people and the challenges they face. My stuff can be edgy, hard hitting, and sometimes controversial, but never contrived. If that’s your bag you can Sign-up To Sunday Letters Here.