Every creative act is a risk. Yes… I think I really mean that…
This realisation emerged from a recent conversation with Alastair Duncan. Alastair is both friend and colleague. He is an artist, including being an outstanding tapestry weaver, photographer and sound recordist. His StillWalks – making natural connections – is worth tapping into. It is beautiful and has opened our eyes and ears.
So, every creative act is a risk, not just involves risk.
This shunted my perspective sideways, bringing the notion of embracing risk centre stage. Rather than as something to be minimised or managed. Seeing its potential as a liberating force in creation and transformation.
No change without change
Because I am a thinker, I am used to working through issues or creative activities looking from all angles. Often pushing the boundaries of what people might normally think or do, and by experimenting. But always doing so with a sense of seeing the whole picture. Being able to anticipate that if I do this, then probably that will happen. Even if it’s not linear or precise.
Seeing every creative act as a risk pushes the boundaries a lot further for me. This is beyond what I can currently assess or perceive.
So am I ready to stretch my attitude toward failure that far?
Being OK with failure is an important part of growing our creativity and strengthening our creative muscles. In a realm where there are no fixed answers waiting to be found, we learn by experimenting, by trial and error. Each time we have the opportunity to see and understand more, building the platform for something new to emerge stone by stone.
But we control how large these steps are by how much failure we are prepared to face.
This isn’t calling for blind steps into utter unreality. However, I do recognise that for me it is a ‘sea change’. What am I prepared to lose or let go of for the sake of breaking through? Of potentially creating something of real worth?
The conversation with Alastair arose as we were talking about my experimenting with our lovely alpaca fibre in making 3D felt. I had messed up some gorgeous fine fleece in the washing process and was trying to redeem it. Using dyed silk fibre I was trying to create a particular effect, but realised that I couldn’t do it in a controlled way. It was a messy all or nothing option, which felt quite uncomfortable.
Every creative act is a risk
Reflecting on this statement afterwards I realised that it has much wider application. If we want to create something genuinely new or transformational, it is – of itself – an act of risk. In whatever area of life or work.
Every risk is embracing an unknown. We cannot be 100% certain of the outcome.
Sometimes we are aware of the magnitude, the potential. Other times not, and we only understand the scale with hindsight.
However, every creative act has a starting point. The place where we take action. Whether that’s a line or word on a page, speaking out loud what’s on our hearts, or other action. Nothing will happen unless we step out and start.
If we want to control our liability we will be tentative and start small. That’s OK for a time, but we don’t grow unless we are prepared to learn, to be exposed by making bolder steps. Reaching for something more.
Sure, we don’t run until we’ve learned to walk. But if running is what we are called to do then let’s get on with it!
P.S. Alastair has some amazing and much more profound and practical insights on this. He’s going to write a piece for sharing later…