“Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.”
This week we are going to practice making mistakes. Our goals are to take wild leaps of faith and to make friends with failure. Why? Because when we’re afraid to try, our creative potential (and joy) begin to dry up. It’s Spring – the season of new growth, planting seeds of possibility, and beautiful beginnings. While Robert H. Schuller’s question is thought provoking, I’m wondering, “What would you create if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Here’s the secret: every creative act leads to an opening or awareness. The only way to truly fail – is not to try. The two collages I created this week look at my personal failures to meet self-imposed expectations related to getting my books published and releasing unhealthy eating patterns. I am choosing to see these ‘creative roads not yet taken’ as ‘feedback.’
“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.”
Agnes de Mille
Earlier in this journey we gave ourselves permission to create. Today we will extend ourselves unlimited permission to fail, flop, screw up (or whatever your name is for not meeting expectations). If this idea seems counter-productive to creativity – let me assure you the opposite is true. Keep in mind: “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” Edwin Land
“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.”
Let’s start with BEAUTIFUL OOPS by Barney Saltzberg. This boldly creative and engaging book was brought to my attention by Dr. Cyndi Burnett, my professor and Master’s Project advisor at ICSC/Buffalo State. You’ll find it in the children’s section, but I promise it will speak directly to your inner child. It goes beyond teaching the futility of perfection and opens the door to embracing imperfection. It is absolutely freeing! Think of some creative project you’ve wanted to try. Sign up for a class or gather the most basic supplies and do it. Perfection is never instant. Thomas Edison tried (and failed) nearly 10,000 times in his quest to invent the light bulb. He considered every ‘failure’ research because it gave him data on what did not work. The fact he kept trying led to his success. In truth – you cannot fail unless you give up.
“Thomas Edison tried 10,000 different materials before finding one that was suitable to serve as a light bulb filament. So if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. We need to set up a system where risk is rewarded. One where we recognize that failure helps us to increase our creativity. Nothing risked is nothing gained.”
Creative Prompt #1: Ask yourself, “If I didn’t have to do it perfectly, I would try ____________ (fill in the blank with the first ideas which come to mind). Now read over this list and see if it spurs more ideas: stand-up comedy, learn a language, take an acting class, learn to shoot video, read your poetry in public, take a sailing lesson, write a short story, learn to tango. This prompt comes from Julia Cameron’s the ARTIST’S WAY: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self, first published in 1992. This timeless classic is filled with ways to connect with your creative potential through daily journal writing, prompts, and play dates. Explore some thrift stores to find a bargain-priced copy. If you’re looking for a local creative tribe, see if anyone is facilitating an Artist’s Way Study Group. Your personal process will be enhanced in a group setting.
“One sure-fire way to stay creative: force yourself to learn something new.”
Creative Prompt #2: Celebrate your mistakes. Think about mistakes you’ve made in the past which turned out to be blessings. Practice looking at mistakes as stepping stones bringing you closer to your desired result. This prompt comes from the CREATIVE LICENSE: Giving Yourself Permission to be the Artist you Truly Are by Danny Gregory (2006). Gregory’s book is literally about using visual journaling and drawing to make creativity a daily habit. I love his one-page chapters on mistakes and drawing badly. He makes it clear flaws are part of what makes your work wonderful.
“Dare to be wrong and to dream.”
Friedrich von Schiller
Creative Prompt #3: Name and claim your biggest, happiest creative dream. Do in in spite of your fear of possible failure. Remember fear is false evidence appearing real. This prompt comes from SARK’s MAKE YOUR CREATIVE DREAMS REAL book (2006). She calls it a “plan for procrastinators, perfectionists, busy people, and people who would really rather sleep all day.” Any book by SARK will set your creative spirit free.
“Don’t be afraid to expand yourself, to step out of your comfort zone. That’s where the joy and the adventure lie.”
This week I failed to get my blog done on Sunday or Monday. So what? I can give myself permission to do what works. I also failed to attend 5 Zumba classes this past week. I had a weekend class which prevented me from meeting my goal – but it is important to keep in mind – goals are guidelines. We need to keep our priorities in mind and do what leads us to our most importation dreams daily. My biggest dream is graduating with my Master’s degree in May. That deadline means other dreams might need to get put on hold. Being flexible is part of being creative. Stretch yourself this week. Make friends with your perceived failures and look at ways you can use them to keep you moving in the direction of your dreams! Enjoy it all and if you need inspiration or encouragement during the week, visit www.JoyofQuotes.com and check out the quotes and coaching in the Risk, Courage, Beginning, Mistake, Fear, and Failure subject categories.
Can you believe we are half way through our 10-week journey? I greatly appreciate your participation and interest. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead of creative discoveries and happy accidents! All comments and suggestions are blessed and encouraged. I’d love to hear about your creative experiences and insights. Have you been inspired to try something new?
Marta Davidovich Ockuly
P.S. I am grateful to Dr. Ruth Richards and Dr. Cyndi Burnett for all they ways they contributed to my successful ‘Scholar Experience” this past weekend. The images show Dr. Burnett and I posing in front of an ‘idea’ poster, and the collage covered binder I created to showcase Dr. Richard’s work. Now that I’m almost finished with my Master’s degree my sights are on earning a PhD at Saybrook University. Yea for creative challenges!!!
“Life is a daring adventure or nothing.”
P.S.S. Here’s the lady responsible for shaking up my creativity and stimulating sweaty smiles. Thank you Tammy for being my Zumba motivator and for sharing your comments on this blog, too! (Yes – that’s me in the yellow top taking the photo!)