Feeling Like A Creative Failure Is Part Of The Process

Mackenzie Pringle
Jun 18, 2019 · 4 min read
Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

Rock bottom can surprise you. One day you feel completely fine, and then the realisation hits you, you’re not where you want to be.

If you are studying or have graduated from a creative industries degree, then I’m assuming you know exactly what I mean. Unless you come from a trust fund, there’s a good chance you’ll often wake up to a tedious job and realise that you couldn’t be further away from your dream.

Amid everything, it’s highly likely you allowed yourself a small creative break. This is entirely normal and should you ever start to lose joy or passion for your art then it may be an excellent time to take a break and assess why that is.

It’s in these days, weeks, or maybe even months of your creative holiday that you might dive into other activities such as drinking with buddies, watching mindless hours of Netflix, or endlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed. At first, you feel great and empowered and have what appears to be infinite time and space.

I’m warning you that this feeling does wear off eventually. That’s when you start to doubt your skills, because if you’ve been working on succeeding in the creative arts for this long what more can you do? Maybe you’re not as talented or inspirational as you once believed.

To break free, you need to accept that feeling like a creative failure is okay.

Mistakes are commonplace, and you need to move forward. Ignoring these negative emotions or feeding into them will only extend your procrastination and do nothing to improve your situation.

Instead, make micro moves, inch closer to your goals each day, even on the worst ones. It’s vital to understand that creativity isn’t easy to come by; you need to work for it.

1. Actively Consume

Ask yourself a few questions about what you’ve just consumed. Even better, ask yourself questions while you are consuming content. What do you hate? What do you love? How did the creators do that?

While I’m watching a new show, I try to notice the technical aspects of the dialogue or picture how the script would have been written for a particular scene.

When reading, I pay attention to the flow of the text, the way the story begins and how the plot is moved along. Again, I try to notice the more technical aspects, I pick out what I enjoyed from it and how I could possibly achieve the same thing in my own writing.

Even just by switching the way you consume material, you’ll be making sparks in your creativity, before long you’ll have picked up a few ideas of things you want to try out yourself.

2. Journal When You Can

Think of journaling as a space to collect and then flesh out ideas, check in with your emotions, and draw inspiration.

Setting up a simple journalling habit doesn’t have to be difficult either. Just 10 minutes a day should suffice. Try to keep it consistent and focused.

3. Set Yourself Tiny Goals

I was once a creative industries student working in benign jobs to earn cash and hoping that one day I’d publish that blog or write that novel which would change the course of my life. Somewhere along the line, I moved to New Zealand and found myself in a job completely unrelated to my degree. I had even started to resign to the fact that maybe I wasn’t one of the special graduates, who would see the spotlight for their beautifully written prose.

No, I’d stopped considering that I was unique and thought I would be stuck in dead-end jobs for the foreseeable future. Despite losing hope, I still advertised my skills in online forums and freelancing sites. I’d been on some of these sites since I was 17-years-old with no bites, but the profiles were already created, and all I did was half-heartedly update the resumes every few months.

Eventually, these small steps helped to snowball my writing career. Don’t underestimate the power of taking the next step, however small it is.

I realised that it’s completely normal to feel like a creative failure at times, especially when you’ve gotten yourself into debt studying the arts and have nothing to show for it.

But just because you feel like your creativity is all dried up, doesn’t mean you should stop trying to make your dreams a reality.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Join The Startup’s +799K followers.

Mackenzie Pringle

Written by

Armed with a passion for personal development, travel, and business. Writer for hire. Let’s work together: mackenzie@tidda.studio

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +799K followers.

Mackenzie Pringle

Written by

Armed with a passion for personal development, travel, and business. Writer for hire. Let’s work together: mackenzie@tidda.studio

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +799K followers.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store