I'm Willing to Make Mistakes.

My theme for the week: I'm willing to make mistakes. As the pace of life at my new arts admin job continues to quicken, and as I continue to feel strapped for time in my studio life, my blog life, and my literary life, I've decided that maybe I don't actually need an eighth day in the week. Maybe I need to be willing to make mistakes. (And maybe some discipline and some mindfulness would help too! But I'll start with mistakes.)

At some point, I deeply believed that the only way an artist could sustain her career was to keep taking risks. To be aware of the detriment of comfort in creativity. That art, like many other pursuits, is actually about staying connected to the process and not just to the success that may or may not come as a result. I was convinced that an artist only continued to be successful if she was willing to risk her own comfort, commercial success, and the approval of her peers. Otherwise, she was kept captive by her own creativity and therefore lost the ability to be innovative, critical, and crucial in her own artmaking.

Okay, so maybe some of this was young, extreme, one-sided thinking that wasn't also considering other concerns like long-term planning, financial sustainability, and opportunity for entrepreneurship. Okay. But I do still agree that there is something crucial to artists who continue to take risks: To be willing to risk what you know to get to a new place of knowing; To be willing to sacrifice your techniques, processes, and aesthetics in order to truly gain new ground. Idealistic? Yes. But unreasonable? I don't think so.

So this week, I'm also realizing that in order to take risks we have to be willing to make mistakes. We have to be willing to experiment. We have to be willing to crack the mold and by this I really mean our own molds. Our own ways of thinking. Our own comfort zones in honor of staying true to the process of creativity. (Agree? Disagree?) And so I'm also realizing, this week, that I not only have to be willing to take risks, but I also have to be willing to make mistakes. Not only to make mistakes but to embrace them. I have to be willing to try without knowing if I'll be successful or if I'll be satisfied or if I'll even finish.

So this week, in the name of making mistakes in my creative process, I've decided that I do have time to take one Polaroid photo. I do have time to edit one poem. I do have time to start one mixed media project. And I do have time to post one more blog. I do have time to try something new. And I do have time to make a mistake. (Or to make a few mistakes. Or to make many.) Because otherwise, I'm stuck. And there's nothing I find more detrimental to my creative, physical, or mental health than feelings of suffocation, smallness, and general immobility. And so, on that note, I'm off to the studio to make some new mistakes! (Hope your week is going well.)


  1. i just never, ever, get tired of your blog. or your thought process.

    there's a line in a song i've been listening to this week, it goes, "gonna rise up, turn mistakes into gold."

    i like that line.

  2. Without trying to sound corny, this post made me feel like saying, 'BRAVO'! I like what you said about having time to take one photo, start one project...that it's so much better than being stuck. I totally get that! Have a great weekend.

  3. thank you, katrina, for waking me! i am shaking off the moss.
    have a great weekend!

  4. Just what I needed to hear. I've been telling myself, but I haven't been listening...

  5. Katrina, mistakes are great things to learn from. wonderful reflection on the subject. and beautiful polaroid too :)

  6. I make mistakes everyday; they don't make me feel a better mom, artist or person, but they help to understand the world around me, myself and learn, above all. Thanls again for your reflection

  7. great photo and great points!
    mistakes = growth and give life that perfect imperfection like the patina on something well-used, well-loved, well-worn

    take good care, C

  8. I really like the way the girl in the picture seems to ponder about something, let's say, her mistakes, and then decides to allow them into her life and make them meaningful. I imagine that because there is naughtiness and challenge in the way she turns her face away from us, as if to say: these are my mistakes, if you cannot accept them as I do, then it's only your problem :-)
    [is it you in the picture?]

  9. I've been going to this great yoga teacher in Brooklyn and each time we do the Tree pose, he always insists that we laugh if we fall over. It's a great lesson to take away! The point of the pose (or yoga, or art, or life!) isn't to balance perfectly, but rather to be able to laugh when things are out of balance and to enjoy the process. Hard lesson for us to learn, but yes, mistakes are essential, necessary for us to learn, so we should embrace them. Thanks, Katrina! XOXO, Karen

  10. Wonderful clear thoughts about what can be such a mind trip! I had thought of it as "creative fear" or "fear of succeeding", though I was never really satisfied with those desriptions. I think its much more manageable and accurate to think about "risk" and "mistakes". Doing that one little bit is like opening the gates to satisfaction, because there is no defeat as long as you are doing what you can. And we know if we are, or if we are not.
    I love the photo!!

  11. i think this is Normal thinking outloud for any of us; to make mistakes, well, we have done it all our lives, haven't we. Its always a process of digging into soulfullness and that costs.

    Most men lead lives of quiet desperation, as a phrase comes from NOT allowing yourself to follow the inner life (i think).

    nice post

  12. Beautifully written.


  13. laura: you are so sweet. thanks for your ongoing love & support, dear woman.

    jamie: hooray! thank you for the "bravo". cheers to not being stuck!

    melissa: oh, how the moss thickens when we aren't even looking, right? yes, we all need to clear the moss.

    kel: oh good. i'm glad it meant something for you.

    tiny red: yes, mistakes are certainly something to learn from. and when we're willing to make them i think they can even be transformative. right?

    esti: yes, yes. i think mistakes can help us understand our selves, our work, our priorities, our unknown inside parts. well said.

    cheryl: the patina! yes, of course. how wonderful to think of it this way. i love it.

    roxana: yes, "these are my mistakes". and yes, that's me in the photo too.

    karen: yes, i think yoga is a great way to embrace our mistakes. and to take risks even when we know we might fail. a perfect metaphor. now, if i can just practice yoga in my artmaking too!

    ambra: yes, my dear friend, risks and mistakes are what we need, i think! to let go and take the risk, just to create.

    mansuetude: yes, yes. and i think not just to accept our mistakes but to expect them in our artmaking. to embrace them. as opportunities.

    andie: thank you!

    dear friends: as always, i am grateful for your thoughts and willingness to engage with me. you are such an encouraging force. thank you.

  14. I really needed to get this message today.



Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.