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Once upon a time, there was a man who was fired from his job as a newspaper cartoonist at the Kansas City Star Newspaper because he “lacked creativity”. That man was Walt Disney, and he went on to create one of the most memorable cartoon characters of all time and a creative empire that influenced generations.
Failure is a natural and valuable part of the creative process. If you dig into your creative role model’s history, chances are they will have faced rejection and failure on their road to success.
Creativity takes courage - Henri Matisse
This is easier said than done. It helps to love your art or creative project more than you fear failing. If you don’t try, you might not fail, but you also won’t succeed either. What will you regret more?
Alternatively, try Implementing regular low-risk creative practice (meaning nothing really depends on the outcome of your creative ideas "failing" or not leading anywhere) into your routine.
For example, if you're a writer, give yourself permission to write badly; fill up 3 pages with whatever is on your mind, even if you feel it's stupid, because nobody else needs to see it. Bake a simple cake, or finish a jigsaw puzzle, or paint-by-numbers project: all of these things engage your creative muscles, without there being much to lose. Eventually, you can work up to your risk tolerance.
So, you've started a project. You're excited about it - your mind is full of possibilities! Then you read an article about someone doing something similar, or see a post on social media, and you start to lose confidence. Why are you even trying, when there's people out there already doing what you do, but better?
This mindset of comparing yourself is the death of creativity. Your comparisons will almost always be a false equation - think of your work-in-progress like you're building a car from the ground up in your garage. Then you look outside and a put-together Ferrari drives past. It's not fair to compare your developing work to someone else's finished product.
Learning from others' creativity is valuable, but when it spills into comparison, things get toxic. Instead, try the following: