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“Make glorious, amazing mistakes.”

Words of creative wisdom, courtesy of Neil Gaiman.

The leap of togetherness by Prem Sahani (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In Neil Gaiman’s now famous 2012 commencement speech at the University of the Arts, he offers some excellent advice to free us from perfectionism, imploring us to simply create — to make art — no matter what. What’s wonderful about this advice is that it applies to any creative endeavour, regardless of whether your art form is writing, drawing, painting, sculpting, or découpage:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

There’s plenty of inspiration in Neil’s speech — check it out in its entirety.

Source: Brain Pickings

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  1. The best way to learn is from your mistakes. I make heaps but I also try to only make them once – otherwise that’s careless. Thanks for the post.

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    1. For me, the best way to learn is from OTHERS mistakes. For instance, say you’re walking down a road and there’s a huge cliff at the end that you are oblivious to. If you fall off that cliff, it’ll be too late to learn from it. However, if you see someone ahead of you fall, you’ll have that option to turn around and remain safe. Just an add on, thanks!
      -Son of True Sovereignty

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    1. As an engineer, I can tell you we certainly are allowed to make mistakes – just not in the final product. Engineering work goes through MANY iterations before it’s final and submitted to the customer. Everything, at least in theory, gets double-checked before it goes out the door, especially for safety-critical (and, to be honest, high cost) products.

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  2. I love this speech. I’m also a fan of David Foster Wallace’s ‘This is Water.’ He really spoke to me in a way no writer has since. I felt myself becoming a better human being as I read it.

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  3. i look forward to every sunday edition of brain pickings! thank you for sharing this, and it is so very true. a watercolor instructor once advised to frame our worst mistakes and place them where we saw them daily.. we would be reminded to ‘never do that again!’

    i also look forward to the wp daily posts, especially those that nudge us into being the best we can be! z

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  4. I wish I had the courage to do this when I was a much younger man, but I suppose, since I am still alive and relatively sane, that I can put some of his advice into practice.

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  5. Is this what the world is coming to? I should get out more obviously.

    Well I can tell you one thing folks: If you are learning to play classical music, you should clean up the mistakes early and as best as you can. Later on they will stick, muck up the flow, undermine your self-confidence and be a real bitch to clean out.

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  6. Yes!!! This is what I hope I can pass on to my students: Don’t be afraid. Create. Try new things. Accidents/mistakes can make the best art.

    Now I just need to get them to buy into that!! #DramaTeacherProblems

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  7. I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, the need to be perfect is all too demanding on my everyday life. Being perfect is impossible.. logically i know that no one can accomplish everything in life perfectly, things are bound to go wrong.

    anyway, thanks for sharing 🙂 Hearing this made my muscles loosen up lol

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