I just finished the launch of the first paid Elsie Road course (The Creative Nonfiction Starter Guide, if you’re interested), and I’ll be honest: it didn’t quite turn out the way I thought it would.
I think the course material wrapped up pretty nicely and I’m excited to work with the students who signed up, but overall, it wasn’t what I expected. Except that it was in a way. Because a part of me expected it to fail.
There were a few things about the launch that I would have done differently, and a couple things I had planned that I just didn’t have bandwidth for. And that’s ok. But by the time I launched it, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Now I want nothing more than to just close the door, wrap it up, and never think about it again. But I’m not going to. Because there will always be things in life that don’t go the way we thought they would. So what do you do when your idea doesn’t turn out the way you planned? Well you do a few things.
You say thank you.
Thank you for the abilities, the grace, the energy to try. You thank God for letting you mess up. And you think Him for the chance to get up and try again.
When a creative idea doesn’t turn out the way you planned–whether it’s a novel, a blog post, a design, a photoshoot–it is so tempting to just shut that idea in a box and forget about it. It happened. It’s over. Let us never speak of it again. Except then you’d waste a perfectly good learning opportunity. And yes, that sounds like a platitude–and also unpleasant and not very fun–but these learning opportunities are what will enable you to knock it out of the park next time. Examine what you did and didn’t do; find the weaknesses and get feedback; record your process so that next time you can make it better.
You try again.
If you spend any time on Pinterest, or read any entrepreneur magazines, or watch the Olympics, it can be easy to forget that before success comes failure. We see those 6-figure launches, those book deals, those Venture-funded startups, those gold medals, and we think, “Now that’s what success looks like. And me? I’m what failure looks like.” But the truth is that those successes are only there because they were willing to fail a whole lot more than others. They were willing to fail over and over again until that failure started to look more like a success. So next time your creative idea feels like a flop, just see it as a stepping stone to success.
I know this is probably something you’ve heard before. I have too. But it’s also something that’s easy to forget. It’s something that you need to learn over and over. And today I want to be that voice saying, “Look at what you’ve learned. Check out all those stepping stones.”
Creativity isn’t a science and our ideas sometimes take a shape that we had never expected. We can shut down, hide out, stuff our ideas in a box and go watch Netflix. Or we can get out there and throw another creative idea into the world.
So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to take that launch, file it under the list of things that didn’t quite work, and then I’m going to try again. And if you’re willing to join me, I hope you’ll let me cheer you on.
What creative ideas are you taking chances with lately?
Ready to take a creative chance with your writing? Check out that course I launched, The Creative Nonfiction Starter Guide. It has all the steps to help you write your first piece of nonfiction.