trial and error terror

Creating is already automatically a risk. It can’t not be. You’re making something where once there was nothing. To make something you really like, something with legs, something with a life of its own, you’re going to have to fail.

Terror is the ego’s endless abyss of a psych job. Consider all that numbing, paralyzing black fear to be a keyhole. Failure is the key.

Failing as a method of discovery requires a period of training. Your task is to mainline failure until you become immune to it. Move through your fears systematically. Go so deep into them you forget what you were afraid of in the first place. Make mincemeat of them. Go overboard with exploratory mistakes. Aim and fall short over and over again. Fail so many times you don’t give a rat’s ass anymore. Miss the damn target 4862 times …

… until the flight of the arrow is more beautiful than where it lands, until the process itself mesmerizes, until all that matters is the ping of the string as you release the arrow. Ping! You’re grooving. Ping! You’ve got rhythm. Ping!

Wow, look at all those failures. They exist! You actually created something.

Failure is a psych job … until it’s not. Until it’s the way you create.

I know. It’s not logical. But if it works, it doesn’t have to be logical.


13 Steps to Trial and Error Terror Transmogrification:

  1. Make something bad on purpose.
  2. Notice one element you like about the bad thing you just made.
  3. Try to elaborate on that one thing you liked.
  4. Fail at elaborating. Try to fail with flair.
  5. Go in the total opposite direction from the one thing you liked.
  6. Notice the worst thing you’ve made so far.
  7. Work at making that worst thing even worse.
  8. See how many bad versions you can make of the worst element.
  9. Notice a theme emerging in all the badness.
  10. Spend a set amount of time elaborating on that theme with as much clumsy failure as possible.
  11. Put all of your work since step 1 in the oven at the highest temperature for one hour.
  12. Dance on the ashes.
  13. Start over at number 1.

I’ve just remembered (with a slap to the forehead) three hilarious writings I’ve used as pick-me-up prescriptions over the years. They’re all about cooking up failure in some way:


Related reading: Defending Stupid

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