So, you’ve got a new idea for a creative project. It’s something you’ve never really tried before, but you’re eager about it and you throw yourself into it with dreams about producing something wonderful.
But, after a while, it either turns out badly or you end up leaving it unfinished in a single bitter moment of cold disillusionment.
We’ve all been there.
It doesn’t happen every time everyone starts creating something they’ve never tried before, but it happens quite often.
As I mentioned in my post about starting a webcomic, I had to get through two unfinished and unpublished attempts at writing a webcomic before I had the beginnings of a comic that I felt even vaguely confident about putting on the internet. Likewise, this isn’t the first blog I’ve ever tried to write, but it’s already lasted for at least twice as long as my previous attempts at writing blogs.
Also, “Liminal Rites” is my second attempt at writing an episodic story. Although some chapters are better than others and it reads like a first draft sometimes – it’s probably still going to end up being the longest story I’ve ever written. Again, I’ve tried writing longer (unpublished) stories in the past, but the most I’ve ever got up to is about 21,500 words.
So, what do all of these things have in common?
Apart from shameless egotism and self-promotion, they are all my second and third attempts at things. My first attempts at things often seem to fail or at least they don’t succeed in the way that I hope they will. I’m guessing that you’ve probably experienced something similar. But, don’t worry, you haven’t wasted your time.
No, I’m being serious here.
It’s probably best to think of your first attempt at something new as a tutorial period or an experiment. You should never see it as anything other than this for the simple reason that you’ll start your new project with the wrong attitude if you do.
If you expect to instantly be the master of something you’ve never even tried before, then you’re almost certainly going to end up disappointed and disillusioned enough to abandon whatever you are doing forever.
However, if you see it as a tutorial period and an experiment, then there’s room to have fun and, most importantly, there’s a lot less pressure. Nothing has to be perfect – after all, you’re still learning. Plus, you can try out a whole bunch of interesting things which you might not have even dared to attempt if you felt that your first attempt had to be perfect. In short, you can have fun and, dare I say it, play with lots of different ideas.
Yes, you will still be disillusioned, but this isn’t a bad thing. All that “disillusionment” means is that you don’t have any illusions. It means that you know, from personal experience, what to expect. As such, your second attempt at making something will be a lot less daunting. You will be slightly older and slightly wiser and your work will be better as a result.
You will know what mistakes you shouldn’t make and you will know what works and what doesn’t. As such, you will be better than the person you were when you made your first attempt.
If you’re creative, disillusionment is a good thing.
But I’ve wasted so much time and effort on my first comic/novel/episodic novel/blog/webcomic !
No you haven’t. Firstly, you’ve probably learnt a lot when you were making it. Secondly, you’ve got your “terrible first project” out of the way. Thirdly, if you liked your first idea a lot, then you can always go back and improve it when you’ve learnt a lot more and are more experienced.
Plus, as I’ve mentioned in another article there’s no rule against plundering your old, unfinished and failed projects for ideas if you aren’t feeling particularly inspired.
In fact, you may well be able to turn a few parts of your failed project into something much better.
Yes, this is all fairly obvious stuff, but it can be easy to forget when you find yourself face to face with a failed project.
Just remember that it’s all part of the learning process and you haven’t wasted your time.
Good luck with your next project 🙂 Keep going and remember that everyone has to start somewhere 🙂