Failure as Freedom: Part One

I’m setting myself up to fail. I’m rather excited about it. Really excited.Happy Face

It’s not crazy. You’re going to have to trust me on this one, even though I’m sure some out there are positive I’ve let the paper cut on my index finger get infected and it’s affecting my rational thought.

I’ve been thinking a lot about failing lately. It is true, nobody likes to fail. Nobody plans to fail. I neither like nor plan to fail. But what’s unacceptable is that nobody is allowed to fail these days. And we should be. Particularly students and artists. Artists and students are two groups who need to fail and be encouraged to fail.

And of course what I mean by encouraged to fail is, encouraged to take risks. To make risky art. To go out on a limb and leap into the atmosphere, not knowing if there’s a net. Risk and Failure make for an awesome team. A great combo.

Angry faceWhat’s happening however, is that instead of people ordering the risk/failure combo with fries, they are chowing down at the perfection buffet. Everything has to be perfect and pretty and shiny and slick right off the bat, right out of the gate. And heaven forbid there be anything the slightest bit wrong, off, sour with what you create. One slip, one crack in the pavement, one wrong turn, one fail and you are done for. If you’ve allowed yourself to fail, obviously you must not be any good at what you do. And if perfection can only be obtain by creating bland with a side of bland, that’s how it goes.

It’s very hard these days for people to see failure as freedom, as opposed to a detriment. Failure does not equal stupidity. How do we know if we’re headed in the right direction, if we don’t falter and build resolve? How do we get stronger if we haven’t stared failure in the eye and moved on? Failure is a part of a fulfilled and fulfilling life.

I’ve been inspired by failure lately. On Thursday there will be a podcast with two teachers who are doing something new and awesome with one of my scripts. They don’t know if what they’re doing is going to work. They may fail. They’re not bunched up over failing. They want their students to have a unique experience, regardless of the outcome. Process over product.

I’ve been planning my writing work for the month of November (I’m going to do another 30 day of development thinking faceproject) and I’ve got an idea for a play that is way out of my comfort zone, way out of my capacity for description.Very scary. And very exciting. The fireflies are percolating.

I’ve already set up a workshop for the play in the spring where I’ll go into a school, leap into the atmosphere without knowing if there’s a net and not be afraid to let the script fail.

Hmmm. Even writing that gives me stomach butterflies. Maybe the infected paper cut, is affecting my brain…

About the author

Lindsay Price


  • Lindsay, you’re right. Failure does not equal stupidity. And not enough is said about what failure can do for us–give us more resolve as you’ve mentioned and teach us new tricks as well. Mainly as you said, it’s that fear of failure that keeps us from taking the risks necessary to bust through that same-old same-old.

    I was once in a fiction class with Dorothy Allison and she told us to write a bad poem. With that assignment, she wiped out our fear of failing to write a good poem and enabled us all to see what we could do.

  • It’s that fine line between trying to pay the mortgage and taking ‘art’ to a whole other level. Both sides, are pretty valid. It’s nice paying the mortgage. But I just wish it wasn’t the be all and the end all. On that, it’s one of the great advantages of being in a small company. It’s easier to take risk because the consequences of failure are far less catastrophic.