I stole it from a very good business book called “Weird Ideas That Work”. The book is about creativity and how to utilize it in business.
Over the course of the last few days I realized I was failing. I felt I had two choices – continue to do what I was doing – which was getting me nowhere – or admit failure and move on.
I admitted failure and moved on.
Then I did what any good project manager does I reviewed the projects to see what worked, didn’t work, and what lessons I had learned.
The novella I’d been working on for the last three months was not progressing. It didn’t flow and although I thought the concept was brilliant it was looking more and more like I wasn’t the person to write it. The journey the characters were on didn’t resonate with me and the story was turning dark in a way that made me uncomfortable. There are times when discomfort is good – it can mean that you are on to something digging out parts of yourself buried so deep that they haven’t seen the light of day.
But this wasn’t good discomfort. I kept making fundamental errors about the characters because I kept trying to make them safe and they wanted to be dangerous. They wanted to walk on a dark side that I’m not sure I have. I can imagine it but I don’t think I could become it enough for the story to resonate with truth.
So, I put it away.
I may come back to it. I don’t know. I’ve moved on.
In a day and a half I have already done more with this new novella than I’d accomplished over the last two weeks with the old one. The theme is lighter, the pace quicker, and it is missing the psychological edge of the other. Best of all, I am happy.
What I’ve learned?
Just because I can dream it it doesn’t mean I can write it. When I hit on something I really like I write in a different way and the ideas come as I need them. I don’t spend hours agonizing to put words on paper or finding things to do other than write.
If you find yourself unhappy, trying to accomplish something that makes a visit to the dentist seem like a day in Cancun, then you are not doing the right thing. I’ve wallowed in failure. I’m sure many of you have. I was stuck in a job that was not a good fit and although I got things done I never felt like a success. Each day was a struggle, every day a failure, the only success I found was in surviving it.
Failure has become a bad word in our society – but failure is a part of us. If we succeeded at everything life would be boring there would be nothing to achieve because achievement would be meaningless.
Look at it honestly and dispassionately. Discover the why of it and understand what when wrong. Then go and do something else – something glorious and new.