When my niece was a toddler, I watched her stack blocks with chubby hands. One, two, three. Then they clattered to the floor and she smiled, ready to start over. Maybe she was building a castle or trying to see how high she could stack them. Only her two-year-old mind knew. But no matter how many times the blocks fell, she stacked them again.
The Assault on our Creativity
We’re bombarded with images of perfection on a daily basis. Every commercial, every magazine, is filled with beauties with perfect skin and clothes, or houses made spotless by effortless cleaning, or gadgets that promise to make our lives easy. We aspire to achieve an image of perfection that is never possible, and yet believe it’s our fault when we don’t measure up.
When we try to catch the fleeting image of perfection, we always miss. We grow through our mistakes. Failure after failure, until we see the final outcome, the fort of blocks that stands tall.
We often try to reach perfection in our art and get angry or depressed when we don’t achieve it. But by releasing ourselves from the pursuit of perfection, we unlock the creative process. We can create what only we can create. We can find the ideas that are locked away, that are unique to us.
To create, we have to be free to make mistakes.
There’s no way to know the end result without sifting through dozens of not so great ideas first. Eventually, things that didn’t work will lead to the answer we’ve been looking for. And we’ll wonder why we never saw it a long time ago.
Through our mistakes, the best art comes.
When you’re writing your first draft, don’t stop to edit your work. You have to let it flow. It will be terrible. It will break all the rules. But there’s freedom in creating, because you can always fix it later. If you’re a musician, artist or athlete, it’s the same: the more you practice at your craft, the better you get, the more you grow, and the creativity flows.
Mistakes are the key to creativity. Without them, we never get past the ordinary. In writing, I can’t find my best words unless I allow myself to write down hundreds of really terrible ones first.
Give yourself permission to make a mess.
If you’re a musician, play without stopping, see what new, strange melodies emerge. If you’re a writer, let your characters take over rather than you telling them what to do. If you’re an artist, don’t be afraid to create what you see.
When life is messy, we’re supposed to clean it up. But if you want to create, let the mess hang around for a while, and you may find something amazing emerge.
What ways has perfection stopped you from achieving your creative best?
For More Reading:
The Moving Target
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