It has been just over 2 1/2 years since I committed to being a full-time Creative.
In some ways that seems like a long time and in others it has been a flash.
My careening efforts have brought me to an unexpected and previously unknown descriptive: I am a FAILING CREATIVE.
Before you hit delete, I want to make the case that this is not a bad thing.
Jumping into a new endeavor has many land minds; some seen, some unseen; some expected, some unexpected. There are serendipitous moments and those ubiquitous head-banging-the-wall moments.
One of the most daunting challenges is that of VOCABULARY. Every profession, every speciality, every tribe has a vocabulary that becomes the shibboleth for “You are one of us” vs. “Who are you and what are you doing here?” Marsha and I experienced this when ordering a meal in the South as the waitress acknowledges our alien status with a sweetly drawn-out, “Y’all aren’t from around here, are you?”
When you don’t have a good grasp on a particular group’s vocabulary, it becomes difficult to even ask a question when you need help. Terms like thing-a-ma-jiggy and doodad do not impress the natives.
For my Creative undertaking, one of the specialized groups was the unavoidable and terrifying INTERNET TRIBE. I started out jabbering away at the children’s card table while the grownups spoke of marvelous mysteries at the big Thanksgiving table. I heard such exotic terms as: site map, autoresponder, web host, backlink, permalink, hyperlink, banner ad, meta tag, e-commerce, dynamic website, CPA, CPC , CPL, CPM, FTP, HTML, HTTP, ISP, PHP, RSS, SEO, URL, and a zillion more acronyms. My head was spinning. I wanted so much to be a Creative Grownup.
As if that weren’t enough to force a normal adult to abandon all hope, there were more terms from other secretive groups, like Photoshop users: magic wand, channels, blending mode, presets, clone stamp, dpi, extract, rasterize, layers, vector, opacity, actions, and transform.
And why did iPhoto try to steal my images before they entered Lightroom? Are Lightroom catalogs really necessary? And where did my images go?
Maybe it is not too late to be something other than a Creative. l’m capable of asking people if they would like fries with their order. I have the talent to wear the blue vest and welcome people into the store. I’m pretty sure I even have what it takes to deliver a pizza or two.
But no! I am an adult! I made it through high school. I earned a BA. I obtained several teaching credentials. I even survived getting a masters. I can do this! Right?
All I have to do is learn the necessary vocabulary and how to use a few computer programs and apps and a new computer system. It shouldn’t take me too long to become proficient with: Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, In Design, Scrivener, Excel, MacPhun, Topaz, Photomatrix, Alien Skin, Snagit, Camtasia, Audacity, Evernote, Calibre, all things Mac, and about 20 more tools … so far.
Of course, today’s Creative needs a website. Enter WordPress, themes, plugins, home page, blogging, hosting and the building of ones own internet presence. How hard could that be? Answer: “Ghiohadsctbvcdflakjnipuyoweryuponv hard!! Just give me the blue vest and shut up!”
OK. I think I’m better now. Thanks to the few of you who have made it this far. Maybe I can make your investment of time profitable.
Whenever we desire to learn something new there will be FAILURES. Nothing revelatory there.
ANTICIPATE them. EMBRACE them. LEARN from them.
If there is ONE NUGGET I can offer you, it is this: You WILL be a FAILING CREATIVE.
But most important, keep this in the PRESENT not in the past.
Good … ”I AM a FAILING CREATIVE who is STILL CREATING.
Bad … ”I WAS a FAILING CREATIVE. (Crickets)
I know I don’t have to quote such famously successful people as Thomas Edison, Babe Ruth, or Wayne Gretzky.
Daniel Coyle’s book The Talent Code has helpful insights.
He talks of Deep Practice where we struggle in certain targeted areas, operating at the edges of our ability, so we can make mistakes.
Daniel advocates jumping into experiences that force us to slow down, make errors and correct them.
The trick is to choose a goal just beyond our present abilities.
He shares a quote from Samuel Beckett. “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
For any of us who take on a new adventure Daniel suggests the following steps.
1. Slow it down
This allows us to attend more closely to errors.
2. Repeat it
Daily practice matters, especially as we get older. This is a physiological thing. (My BA coming into play here)
3. Learn to feel it
We can learn to trust ourselves as time goes on, which then leads to more skill acquisition.
Although I am a FAILING CREATIVE, I have developed my skills and necessary vocabularies to still be growing as a full-time Creative.
There were times I had to remind myself of the **WHY **of going through the mistakes, frustrations, and failures.
I am so thankful I wobbled on when I had no idea what I was doing.
I love creating things.
I’m looking forward to seeing how far I’ll go in another 2 1/2 years.
The question for all of us Creatives: Is it worth it?
If yes, enjoy the ride.
What do you think?
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I’m Preston McCracken, join me in ENLARGING OUR LIVES.