If you aren’t willing to fail, are you even trying? So this blog has existed in some form or another for a while, and for (really no good reason) has never been actively used. I would occasionally post things (which were often just scraped from other accounts and moulded into a more blog-friendly format), but it wasn’t really the kind of thing that grew, just the kind of thing that limped along when I decided to blow on the embers.
As someone whose brain tends to run 24/7, I’ve always been frustrated at my inability to put those thoughts into any kind of useful form, whether fictional or even just as a journal. I have pages and pages of notes from just the last four years, and all I need to do is stare at them for long enough to put a few ideas together and start writing. It’s particularly stupid because I know that when I’ve gone over the things I /have/ written, I have never been so disgusted that I have deleted them immediately (not for the things I wrote after the age of fifteen, anyway). So it’s not like I’ve written and failed magnificently, it’s more a complete failure to launch.
I spend a lot of time on Reddit, and for the last year or so I’ve reviewed a lot of self-published books in exchange for free reviews. What do these things have in common? They’re typically platforms for people who are more interested in getting something out of their head than producing something lasting content, something that can endure. Why does this bother me so much? Because I have stoically refused to be a creator of what I would term ‘transient content’, I don’t want to write something cute, I want to write something that leaves a crater. Do you want to know the difference between self-published authors and me? They have a book out and I don’t. Those posters on Reddit? They have responses to their ideas and I don’t. I have spent so much time isolating the mistakes of others (as a thought exercise, I’m not the kind of person to produce a bulleted list of the ways you’ve screwed up) that I’ve painted myself into a creative corner. I feel like everything I produce needs to be perfect and polished. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel that this is a bad mindset, necessarily. But I feel like I’m being incredibly hard on myself. You know one reason why reality TV is so different to scripted television? It’s because no one can be perfect 24/7 – people are messy, they slip up and they say dumb things.
So my goal is to stop aiming for that polish – not deliberately, there’s nothing charming about an easily fixed mistake. But I’m realising that something that’s 75% of the way to finished is going to be enough most of the time (and anyone who has ever marked my uni assessments knows that about me already).
So the takeaway? Be more willing to fail – it’s better to be seen trying and failing than not seen at all.