Overcome the fear of creative failure.

I don’t consider myself a writer, a painter, an illustrator, a photographer, a sculptor, or a musician. I’ve dabbled in all of these practices to some degree, but never truly embraced the result and worked to improve. I tell myself it’s because I’ve lost interest in the medium, but the truth is that it’s cowardice. I stop because I’m not immediately proud of the work and I’m terrified if I invest further and don’t impress myself, I’ll feel like a failure. If I don’t try, I can’t fail.

As a creative professional, I’m exposed to the overwhelming talent of people around the world. In our internet age, I’m not just comparing myself to creatives I know, but rather the talent and work of hundreds of thousands of other people. While their work is inspiring, it can also be intimidating and discouraging.

This weekend I swallowed my foolish pride and made the conscious decision to express myself through unfamiliar mediums, whether I excel or fail. I also plan on sharing the work in an effort to overcome my fear of creative failure. Life as a designer has thickened my skin a bit and taught me to share work early and frequently.

I started by writing a short post titled “Uber is the Duck Hunt of my 20's.” For the first time in months I shared creative work outside my comfort zone. It wasn’t perfect or as profound as many of the incredible posts on Medium, but it was my first step towards overcoming my disposition and sharing imperfect work with the world.

I’m taking another step today and sharing the illustration in the header of this post. Last night I doodled a creepy, block-headed girl into a sketchbook usually reserved for UI sketches and notes. In the spirit of my personal renaissance, I decided to clean her up in Photoshop and add some color. I fiddled with it for the better part of 3 hours, but it was definitely time well spent. It reminded how much I enjoy illustration and tinkering with Photoshop for non-design projects.

I’m going to continue to push myself out of my creative comfort zone and find new ways to express myself. I’ll likely continue with illustration for a while, but might also steal some of @ashleybatz’s photo equipment and start capturing SF’s beauty.

Don’t dismiss creative pursuits for fear of failing at them. You almost certainly will at first. Practice is the only way to improve, so if you enjoy a form of expression, do it and do it often! Don’t be limited by a fear of failure. Instead, be motivated by a passion for expression and betterment.