How I learned to wrangle the rabbits of failure

Raquel Newman
February 19, 2014

When I was a clinician, I was always envious of those who got to work in a creative environment. Logical, ordered and rational thinking is great, but I often wondered how cool it would be to solve problems in a whole different context.

Then I started working in a creative environment.

It turned out that being a creative genius was not as easy as I’d hoped. The moment I started trying to think creatively, one of two things would happen.

One – nothing.

Two – my thoughts would erupt and scatter like frightened rabbits. They’d dart and weave, disappear down one hole, reappear from another. I couldn’t tell which ones were worth pursuing. I’d catch one, but it was the same one I’d caught a minute before – and a juvenile at that.

Creativity runs wild

And catching one only made the elusive others look better. The glossy-coated creatures that had looked so promising on my mind’s horizon were scabby, myxomatosis-ridden vermin up close. Rejects, the lot of them.

So I am faced with a choice – of sorts. Either I go back to a world where a good day is getting home without being covered in blood and other bodily secretions (and I can tell you I haven’t come this far to do that), or I learn how to produce high-quality creative work day after day.

With the latter in mind, I have asked around. It turns out that there is more than one way to skin the cat of creativity and everyone has his or her own process.

One recurring theme is the ability to accept failure.

Sometimes your ideas will be completely rejected. This is inevitable. Accepting it prevents the paralysis that comes from trying to come up with the perfect idea.

‘Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.’ Scott Adams

Now I write down all the ideas I have, no matter how scabby. Almost every time, a couple actually develop into something, or at least trigger other ideas. I’m willing to let them be judged. If they’re rejected, that’s okay.

Ideas are indeed like rabbits; they breed.

Raquel Newman is a Writer at Wellmark

‘Brave rabbit’ image by Yuri Levchenko, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons under a CC BY 2.0 license.

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