I love reading about failure! It is much more common and real than success. Other people struggle too. Other people’s lives are not as shiny and flawless as they appear on Instagram and the happy blogs. It’s not only me. We are all humans and we all get lost and demotivated.
Has this ever happened to you?
Creative Failure: Start – Get bored – Feel Guilt – Repeat
It starts with a great idea, inspiration, and enthusiasm for a new project. I put all my goals on the walls and I go ALL IN. I like the novelty of it, I like the carefreeness of being a beginner, making mistakes, exploring and learning.
While I see some progress, it is usually slow. What was previously an exciting new path now is a serious uphill hike with a heavy backpack. The first obstacles appear. I compare myself to the other shining stars on the horizon. They create awesome content every day, they publish books, they have a powerful online presence. I suddenly lose interest and I get bored.
But I don’t give up, not yet. I try to recover and come back on track. A couple of creative outbursts follow: I put some more effort into the project, I continue writing, and I publish some more pictures. But this is short lived. After a while, I reach the same dire straights.
Meanwhile, I have started a few new appealing projects I couldn’t say no to. The tasks are pilling up, the guilt and shame as well. I have no time. Going back to a full-time job after my sabbatical is a good excuse. I am too tired. I don’t feel like writing. I’ll do it next weekend. But the weekend when I feel motivated never comes.
The burden is so heavy! It’s like I’ve abandoned my newborn brain baby. But I don’t know how to go back and take care of it. I don’t know how to get excited about it again. It’s not playful anymore. I am so overwhelmed that the only thing I can do is binge watch The Mindy Project (don’t try it, it’s addictive, and has 6 seasons. I’ve warned you.)
Failures vs. Successes
As I was analyzing this tendency, I made a list of all the projects I’ve started and abandoned in the past years. I called them failures. On the other side were the projects which turned out quite good.
Guess what – the successes were as many as the failures. My conversion rate was 50%. The failures – well, there were not real failures. Some of them were a poor judgment on my side, some of them were fake desires, some of them I quit in favor of others. I’ve learned something from all of them.
It’s better to make 10 attempts and succeed 3 times than try 3 times and succeed all of them. In the first case you’ve learned much more. – Gary Vaynerchuk, Crushing It!
I tried many things. Some flopped, some flew. But here I am, a human with experiences which I can build on and use in future ventures.
Why bother sharing?
So, if you have been wondering – that’s where I am with EyesOnTheGoal. I’ve reached a dead end.
Why do I share all this? First of all, because I don’t see enough of these “failure” moments online. I don’t hear people talk much about it. And it’s important. You can’t be a success, without feeling like a failure at least a few dozen times.
Secondly, I need to take this off my shoulders. Writing is a superpower – takes all the ever-nagging voices, doubts, thoughts, from your system onto the screen. It creates distance and clarity. It’s my creative self-therapy. And who knows – maybe my confession and struggles will help someone in my situation. You’re not alone. We all get demotivated and we lose our mojo.
Last but not least, because I want to hear how other people cope with creative blocks. What do you do when you can’t stand your creative project anymore? What do you do when you feel alone, demotivated and wonder:
Why am I doing this (blog, podcast, youtube channel, _____ add your thing here)? Does anyone even care? It’s worthless.
For the record, I wrote this blog post over more the span of over 2 weeks. As I was getting myself in the mood to write, or as I was writing, there were thousand times I went to fix me a snack, made me a hot chocolate, checked Facebook, complained how demotivated I was, declared I will finish it today, but I didn’t, bit my nails, checked Facebook again, pulled my hair, watched hours of the Mindy project…
Now I am pushing the “Publish” button and it’s my personal triumph. I did it. Hallelujah!
Header photo by Kate App; Creative Dead End photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash
The World's Worst Employee says
Great article! I really like the picture of the project process. I’m working on a project in my job at the moment and that is exactly what it feels like. My first reaction is always to remove my self from the situation, or ‘pussy out’ if you will. But I’m trying to get better at just accepting the hard things and tough times. But you’re definitely right that we mostly only see on side of the coin online. Thank you for writing about your failures and good luck with your journey.
Kate App says
It’s all a mental construct. I believe that there’s a sustainable and consistent way to bring creative work to the world without so much drama. I’m determined to find the recipe!
Love what u have written sounds like me starting projects. One thing I have read u are never a failure if u try.Don’t know if u have read The Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma maybe u will find some useful answers as it is a very good read.I also remember how u encouraged me.Keep at it.Lots of love
Kate App says
thank you for your kind words! I will check the Monk who sold his Ferrari.
The best thing about this blog is that I can openly write about my struggles and triumphs and I connect with people in a new way. Funnily, it’s the internet that brings us closer.
Hugs from me!