No Failure


This week I took on the challenge of envisioning a creative plan for 2016, by joining Tracking Wonder’s Quest 2016, and blogging to the prompts they post three times a week.

Quest # 3 posed by author, educator, brand strategist, and founder and host of Design Matters, Debbie Millman, asks

How would you do business as unusual in 2016 if you knew, no matter what you chose, you couldn’t fail?

I keep getting stuck on this word “business.” It just doesn’t sit right with me. It conjures up visions of making money and having clients and developing a product and such–none of which seems appealing to me. I don’t want the responsibility, burden of having to make a living at my art. That seems daunting. Mostly I fear failure. I fear bankruptcy. I fear not being good enough. I fear drawing a blank. I fear my creativity running out. I have a lot of fears. So if I were to get into the spirit of Quest #2–and assume that bankruptcy would not be an issue because I would have my uncle’s inheritance, and if I also went along with the premise of Quest # 3, that it would be impossible to fail then all that’s left is the fear of drawing a blank, the fear of not being good enough, and the fear of my creativity running out. Let me take each one one at a time:

1. The fear of drawing a blank. This is real. I often don’t know where to start, what the content of my creativity might be. If I were a pot maker, I’d know I have to make pots–there is a “thing” towards which I am creating–a bowl, a vase, an ornament. But one of my biggest road blocks as a writer is that I don’t know “what” I am making. I know my medium–words–but I am always stuck around the subject (I wrote about this in a response to quest # 2). In order to “do business as unusual” even if I knew I couldn’t fail, I would need to first define what that business is. This is a genuine quest.

2. Then there is the fear of not being good enough. This is real, too. I send out my poetry, and it gets rejected. Then I re-read it and I see it with new eyes and I go–yeah, I can see why they sent it back. It isn’t good enough. Not yet. Some of it is better than others–I feel I write better now than two years ago–but I still judge it as (mostly) not good enough. Now it may be true that according to Quest # 3, I would/could not fail, but that wouldn’t necessarily mean that it was “good enough” artistically (case in point–50 shades of gray), and that would not be satisfying to me–mere success without artistic merit. So I guess in order to do “business as unusual,” I would have to define what “good enough” means to me, what “artistic merit” means to me, and then set about strategizing as to how to develop those skills/talents in myself.

3. Finally, there is the fear of my creativity running out. This is not only real, it’s actual. I am a jack of all trades sort of creative, a dabbler, a “hummingbird” to use Elizabeth Gilbert‘s metaphor for the one who flits from interest to interest, the one for whom curiosity, rather than passion, is the driving force. I have lived long enough to know that I can quickly and wholly lose interest in something, without any warning or any waning. Just, Boom! And I’m over it. This, I imagine, is not conducive to conducting business–unusual or not. So what is one to do? This one is a kicker. I can’t seem to figure out how to work my way around this. How would I create a “business” (and I use this term in its broadest sense), that accommodates for this seeming lack of longevity. I know “pivoting” is all the rage in the start up world and entreprenuership, but how do I translate that to my own business of creativity?

These are the questions and directions for further inquiry that come of for me as I consider Quest # 3: How would I do business as unusual in 2016 if I knew, no matter what you chose, I couldn’t fail?

Here are some posts by other Questers that resonate with me:

Strange Love: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dragon ~ Brenna Layne

No Failure ~ Lauren McLean Iuppa Ayer

No Failure – Paul Calabro


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Categories: Reflections

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3 replies

  1. Tina this is so great. I’ve started the Wonder Quest and it is EXACTLY what I needed right now… I’ve done (and been loving) all 4 exercises. Thank you for sharing this!! <3 nancy


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