True Creativity Demands You Fail

[3-Minute Read] My journey as a writer may have started on a well-trodden path, but then I had the good fortune of failing. That's what true creativity demands.

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True Creativity Demands You Fail

My journey as a writer may have started on a well-trodden path, but then I had the good fortune of failing. That’s what true creativity demands.

The Writing Failure

I struggled to write my blog post this week. Frustration gnawed on Wednesday as my 800-word limit loomed with no coherent story within reach.

Writing isn’t one of my natural talents; words get knotted in my head. My English teachers tried sorting out the mess, but their red pens had word limits, too. Getting letters, words, and sentences into something close to the correct order has taken years of practice.

Knowing all that, you may think it is strange that in November 2017, I convinced myself I could write a book.

Women have frequently asked me to publish a book about my extreme adventures. They’re usually curious about what makes me tick or dream about doing something similar one day.

At first, I laughed away their request, but as they continued to roll in, I could no longer ignore the truth that sat behind them. These adventurous, intelligent women were restrained by self-doubt, and I had the key to freeing them.

PHOTO: Say you’re writing a book, and suddenly, everyone, including the local wildlife, is an expert.

My fear of being a clumsy writer turned a simple project into an Everest-scale challenge. I set a whopping target of writing 100,000 words. I subscribed to blogs from bestselling authors and plastered Post-it note quotes on every conceivable surface. My proper writer mate, Cheryl Fitzell, endured a relentless barrage of questions. Stephen King’s On Writing became my bible and Hemingway’s method my holy grail.

The book manuscript and I endured a torrid 18-month relationship. I constantly questioned why we were together and if I was good enough. Finally, I called it quits on the 21st of May 2019 at 2:13 a.m., and my word-weary hands stopped typing at 22,351 words.

I would have torn that manuscript to shreds or burned it in a fit of writer rage, but I couldn’t be bothered. The thought of going anywhere near it drained the life force from my limbs.

The Real World Adventure Failure

I trashed the idea of writing a book because it no longer served my purpose.

I know from personal experience that confidence is born from action. Reading a book can spike confidence because it might generate a new perspective or understanding of what it means to trust yourself truly. However, that spike will not be sustained. Lasting self-belief comes from putting the learned principles into action and seeing the results.

That thought led the way as I travelled to remote regions of Indonesia in February 2020. I planned to be gone for three to six months, searching adventure locations that offered a sharp contrast to a comfortable life in Australia. I wanted to take women away from their regular routines and empower them to explore the extremes of their capabilities.

I was in Indonesia for a month before COVID-19 shut the world down, and I returned home.

Another dead end and more time lost, but I refused to give up on my mission.

PHOTO: Arriving into the Banda Islands, Indonesia where I wanted to take women on adventures.

True Creativity Demanded I Fail

I fluffed my phoenix feathers and sat down at my computer to start again.

During the COVID lockdowns, I set myself the task of creating a near-to-real-life-as-possible learning experience to help women practice their self-belief. I didn’t know what that meant, but it felt like something worthy of pursuing.

For 12 months, I researched, workshopped, and carved a new tool from thin air.

Emerging from that journey is the world’s first online Journaling Adventure for adults. It’s still in a rough draft, but it’s functional. Most importantly, it’s already helping those big-hearted, smart women (and blokes) find freedom.

At a Stanford University speech, Steve Jobs said, “The dots can only ever be connected looking backwards”. We never know the path that life has planned for us.

Imagine for a moment if I had succeeded in writing that book. It would now be squeezed on a bookstore shelf, gathering dust. Pushing from the left would be the mantra of some ex-military dude who swears too much. Jostling from the right is the story of a mountaineer who got a little too close to death. Feeling like I had ticked all the boxes, my journey most likely would have ended there.

Instead, life gave me the chance to learn. I stripped my cumulative knowledge back to its raw ingredients. It tested the tensile strength of my willpower to the point of breaking.

My journey may have started on a well-trodden path, but then I had the good fortune of failing. That’s what true creativity demands.

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.

— PAULO COELHO

Discover more about your bold mind every Monday

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