March 3, 2019

Do This Stuff If You Want to Fail as a Creative

Patton Oswalt explains what it looks like when creativity is killed.

It's hard out here, man. 

Real life is difficult enough with paying the bills, eating right, and taking care of your kids—forget trying to balance your creative passions with all of that. And even if you do, the road is still steep and treacherous as hell. Not only are you trying to convince the industry gatekeepers that you're worthy of entry, but you're also trying to convince yourself that you're worthy. 

And damn...that battle alone is the biggest killer of creativity.

If you're struggling today to remember why you're even on the road to begin with, listen to what Patton Oswalt has to say in this interview with Sam Jones on The Off Camera Show. Let it just envelop you like a big, warm hug, buddy.

Knowing how to succeed in filmmaking, or just creative pursuits in general, is a whole hell of a lot more difficult than knowing how to fail at it. Failure seems to be par for the course, actually, and that can get really depressing after years of "no's" and "hrmm, yeah, that's not how it works out here, man."

And to be honest, no one really knows how to succeed in this industry. Sure, knowing people, having connections, and working tirelessly without ceasing are pretty good boilerplate answers to give your desperate friends, but they don't work all the time. However, if you want to fail...Oswalt, literally the only celebrity I follow on Twitter, makes it crystal clear on how to do that.

Let Your Inner Critic Win

Tell yourself all the bad things. 

"Yeah, my script sucks. Yeah, no one wants to make my stupid ass movie. Yeah, my ideas are boring, uncreative, and unremarkable. I should probably give up."

Let self-doubt creep in and start calling the shots until you convince yourself to put your camera and your creative brain away for good.

Let All the Other Critics Win

Let other people tell you all the bad things.

Make sure to surround yourself with people who think your work is shit because they know better. Yeah, it might kill your creativity and suck out your soul, but that's better than failing. Take to heart all the rejection, take it personally, and give those comments more weight than your fading inner voice trying to remind you why you wanted to be a filmmaker in the first place.

(Bonus points if you make friends with people who call your ideas redundant while comparing you to other creatives.)

Adopt Your Naysayers' Voice as Your Own

If you're not a people person, good. You don't need to surround yourself with those assholes...just turn their ruthlessly negative comments into your inner voice. Then you'll be able to kick your creative spirit in the nuts whenever you want.

On-demand soul-crushing...that's the goal.

Believe That Negativity Helps You

You need people to keep you grounded and aware of your flaws, right? Otherwise, you might put out some horrible work. Better to keep shit-talkers helpers around so you can avoid the embarrassment of trying and failing. In the words of Samuel Beckett, "Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Just stop trying because you're embarrassing yourself."

Neglect Your Mental Health

A healthy you fails healthily, and we can't have that. You'll just become complacent with failing. 

Refuse self-care. Refuse to believe you have the capacity to create something awesome. Refuse to do things daily that build you up, especially if it involves physical exercise because that will not only strengthen you mentally and emotionally but it'll also strengthen you physically. Confidence is the arch nemesis of a failure mindset, so kill it before it overtakes you.

"All the times that you keep doubting yourself, what you're doing is you're letting some dull, uncreative, uncourageous person in your past...win when you let that voice win."

Please don't follow anything I just said.

Don't allow your creative spirit to be stolen by yourself or others, because it's one of the most potent elixirs of joy.

Sometimes it seems like everything in the world is telling you all the reasons why you should just get that 9-to-5, sit behind a desk, and grind for the rest of your life until your kids put you in a home, but that's not real livin', gang. Real livin' is trying and failing, trying and failing, failing, failing, trying, trying, failing a lot more, and then maybe, maybe succeeding a little...or a lot, and then looking back on your life and being so fuggin' happy that you tried. 

The gift of creativity is not success, it's in the act of creating. Find joy in that and you'll want for nothing.

If you're still bummed out and need more inspiration, check out some other uplifting articles here.

And if all else fails, know that we're all in it together. I'll be down in the comments with a beer and a kind word, fam.     

Your Comment

15 Comments

Here with a beer and a kind word...as promised.

March 3, 2019 at 7:18PM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

Hi

March 3, 2019 at 8:33PM, Edited March 3, 8:53PM

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Marcos Soriano
Writer / Director / Editor / Cinematographer
19

Heyo, Marcos! How's your writing treating you?

March 3, 2019 at 10:57PM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

Not that great to be honest. After thirty some attempts and a couple decades trying to crack that nut without much success I decided to take matters into my own hands and shoot my own film. In the final stages and happy with how it turned out but now comes the hard part of getting anyone to see it. This is the trailer for it--

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIG2GLp3nWg

March 4, 2019 at 9:00AM

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Marcos Soriano
Writer / Director / Editor / Cinematographer
19

That's right, my man! Grab the bull by the horns!

Watched the trailer...love the concept! Very creative and interesting. I also checked out the pics on your film's IMDb page. Dude, did you shoot your movie on a GH5!? Looks great!

March 4, 2019 at 11:01AM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

Not the GH5 but GH4. A great camera still capable of putting out excellent images. We reached the point a couple years ago where anyone with time and dedication can produce something of high quality with consumer grade tools. There are no more excuses.

March 4, 2019 at 11:16AM

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Marcos Soriano
Writer / Director / Editor / Cinematographer
19

You're exactly right! No excuses! Good for you!

March 4, 2019 at 11:52AM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

Trailer looks amazing, very well done, extremely professional. I'm not interested in this kind of stories, but I think you should be able to get many people to see it. You do put to rest the worries of people constantly trying to buy new gear, though. The GH4 is more than enough to tell a story, just for showing that, congrats to you.

March 4, 2019 at 12:25PM

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I have already realized that my fears and my inner critic had won the battle for a few years. I thought, as the critic in Fellini’s 8 1/2, that if we can’t create something better than silence we should just put everything off. I still have to build my path but the article was a necesary light. Thanks man and enjoy the beer!

March 4, 2019 at 3:44AM

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Antonio!

One of my favorite quotes from Tarkovsky: "Art is born out of an ill-designed world." Rather than grinding because I want to succeed, I grind because I have to in order for my life make sense.

Do we create stuff for others? If so, yeah, maybe creating something better than silence is best.

But if we create stuff for ourselves, the stuff we create really only becomes our inner thoughts and ideas.

March 4, 2019 at 10:54AM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

Preach! I’m currently working full time on 10 projects, all unpaid - developing them all for the past 2 years and seeing what will stick. Lucky to be able to do so.. hopefully a paycheck soon, will keep you posted.

March 4, 2019 at 6:09AM

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Harrison Houde
Actor / Director / Musician / Creator
2

Daaaaaamn Harrison! You're busy...and also a fuggin' beast! Your grind is inspiring.

March 4, 2019 at 10:56AM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

I can’t even pay these bills. I burn my scripts and novels to keep me and my family warm.

Fortunately I have tons of great ideas that will go no where.

March 4, 2019 at 6:00PM

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Justin Gladden
Producer
372

You get two beers, Justin.

March 4, 2019 at 10:05PM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

It's always so nice to stumble across articles or videos like this. They always seem to come along at just the right time. Now to use this boost and finish strong on the current project! Cheers!

March 8, 2019 at 1:11AM

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Derek Schneider
Everything @ Feisty Goat Films
1