Making friends with failure – How it made me realise that I have to KEEP ON WRITING

At the start of this year I stupidly vowed on Twitter that I would complete three short films by mid July. I’ve always taken personal promises very seriously. Every pledge I’ve ever made has been fulfilled. Every sworn oath bellowed in public, every secret bond whispered to myself as I faced another night without any sodding sleep. Man of my word, apart from on two occasions.

The first was when I got sacked from a shitty corporate edit because someone higher up the food chain misinterpreted the clients brief (and neglected to listen to my protests). I got the blame, and I broke my promise to deliver the goods on time. Hard to achieve your stated goals when you’ve been thrown out of the building for someone else’s foolishness…

And the second was last week, when I completely failed to deliver the three completed short films I had publicly promised to my followers on a social networking site. Bugger…

Up until a few weeks ago, I still entertained a mad hope I would meet my self imposed challenge. Eventually, the weak and flabby part of my brain that handles my common sense what-sit kicked itself out of it’s dreamy stupor and dragged the rest of me kicking and screaming into reality. I was going to fail. I was going to break my promise. Naturally, I felt like shit. A stupid, gobby shit who’d got caught by boasting himself into a corner in public. How did I allow this to happen?

There where many reasons why I failed, but beyond a few unwelcome incursions from my life beyond film making, the chief cause of my failure was that I couldn’t help my silly brain from getting all excited and ahead of itself. Those three, affordable and feasibly possible short film ideas blossomed into three, very exciting feature film ideas. Naturally, being the ambitious, foolhardy sort I am, I rather excitedly persued and developed these ideas over the months I was supposed to spend on the shorts. I tried to rally at the last minute, coming up with three new ideas a month ago. I’m currently working on the first drafts and everything is coming along nicely. But clearly I’m weeks if not months away from completing this new trio. Last week, I was feeling very upset about letting myself down.

Oh, there have been hundreds of minor infractions before. Deadlines pushed because my Mac blew up (something which has happened to me three times, the last time, my trusty ageing G5 decided to CATCH FIRE) But I don’t count these as failing to meet a promise. Merely, a harmless blurring of set goals lines. This is something different. I simply didn’t get done all the things I was hoping to do in half a year. I didn’t even come close. But despite this, I’m now feeling good about this failure. Let me explain…

When I started writing this post, it was going to be a simple act of contrition. It still is that but a number of interesting things happened as I typed the words above.

I realised I’m OK with failure.

Firstly, failure has allowed me learn my limitations, what I can realistically achieve. It made me realise my ambitions where getting away from me. I’d never want to restrain or contain myself, but I’ve been trying to sprint before I’ve figured out how to lace up my stupid looking trainers. How absolutely ridiculous!

Secondly, and keeping with the running theme… failure has burnt my heels. Made me realise I need to figure out the best way to lace up these soppy looking trainers VERY QUICKLY and get my arse down that track. I was pretty motivated before. But now? You just watch me knacker myself out once I’ve got these overpriced sneakers strapped to my size 11’s!

Thirdly, I’ve crossed a line I thought I’d never cross. it’s OK. The world didn’t end! I will survive and I’ll get it right next time. I won’t be making a habit of this, but it’s OK to stumble and fall. Grass stains wash out of your shorts and the cut on my knee will heal, right?

Fourthly, in a slightly contradictory sense, it made me realise the massive benefits of setting unrealistic deadlines. They can motivate you to go that extra mile even when you think your all out of puff. If you just ambled along at a comfortable speed, you’re not really getting the best out of yourself. Fortune favours the bold, even those bold fools who sprint along in freshly laced up, stupid looking foot bling.

As we dash along into the final hundred metres of this post, it looks like this fifth reason will be the clear winner: Failure reminded me to very careful what I say Twitter. A cautionary observation we should all pay great heed off…

Oh, what’s this? A shock twist? Just trouncing the Twitter warning to the finishing line is this little beauty. This is the unassailable truth that I’ll take away from my most recent non fulfilment:

After two weeks of feeling like shit, I finally brought myself round to writing about this miserable offence in the last hour. It made me feel better, then it made me see the positive aspects as mentioned above. But most importantly, as I was coming up with the above crack about Twitter I realised the true lesson here is that I must write everyday, as much as possible, as often as possible. What started out as an apology has become a reaffirmation of why I write. It’s always good to be reminded how the formation of words lifts the spirit, fuels the soul and sets your troubled mind to rest on a nice soft bed of clarity. Just what you need after a long, hard marathon…

So no matter what failures you face…. KEEP ON WRITING.

(Also, don’t wear trainers. Nothing like a good, stout pair of boots. DM’s are my personal favourite, though in the past I’ve gone the army surplus look. Quality footwear is the foundation of EVERYTHING you try to do in life. And they look cooler, IMHO.)

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