The 2014 Sundance Film Festival delivered a much-needed dose of inspiration for me on January 20. That Monday was officially designated “Free Fail: A Day in the Life of Failure,” and a full slate of discussions and workshops celebrated failure. That’s right—they celebrated failure.
One of the workshops held on Free Fail day was called “The Beauty of Failure in the Creative Process.” The title of that workshop suggests that failure is an integral and important part of the creative process (calling it “beautiful” is still a struggle for me), something most of us know from experience but are loath to admit.
As I work on a new book or article, I tend to think of failure as an uninvited and unwelcome houseguest. I tell myself to focus on the positive and resist the impulse to even consider the F word. Yet Sundance’s Free Fail day advocates another approach, one that acknowledges upfront that every creative effort is a risk, that creation and innovation require, almost more than anything else, the willingness to fail.
I’ve lost track of the number of people who’ve said to me, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.” For some of those folks, time and circumstances conspired to prevent their literary efforts. But for the vast majority, it’s easier to procrastinate than to make a start and face the prospect of failure. Personally, I’ve decided to take a Free Fail day of my own periodically, time to celebrate my failures and reflect on the unexpected places they’ve taken me.
My novel, Yard Sale, is available at Amazon.