Week 5 — Mistakes

Andrew Wilcox
2 min readOct 19, 2020

I think it is fair to say that I have had a difficult relationship with mistakes, having grown in up with family members who take them very seriously, and I think that the social environment clearly influences how we understand mistakes, and so I picked up some of these attitudes from my family.

If I were to characterise it, I would say that mistakes are about a sense of control, as a mistake implies that something has not gone in the right direction of what would judged as ‘good’ or ‘right,’ thus it is comparing the mistake to an ideal that creations friction.

The attitude I try to take is similar to what Jordan Peterson has recommended, “Negotiate with yourself, don’t be a tyrant,” which resonates with me, as a perfectionist mindset is extremely unforgiving and harsh. Looking for value in the mistake is another method that I like, because it is good reminder that everything is not black & white, that there are opportunities in mistakes.

However, this is easier said than done, as some mistakes are difficult to frame with that perspective, and so I would say that in these scenarios its all about putting it to one side and moving on. Again, easier said than done, but very necessary. I sometimes struggle with that as it can be difficult to avoid the affects of mistake made as they have a material impact.

As for creative mistakes, I think that the trap I fall into is one where I become preoccupied with time, when actually in reflection, my best work has come from being in a playful mood where I’m not worried about the result. So the challenge for me is to make space for mistakes in my work, in that there is time for me to play without being a tyrant to myself about the time I could be wasting.

Closely connected to time, is the pressure I put on myself to produce something of value within that time, and I go through a process of judging whats there, and then weighing up what is valuable and what has been a waste. Again, I need to do better at creating a space for mistakes whereby the time spent does not hinge upon the value of what was produced.

Therefore, I think what would help me is scheduling because what with the dissertation and handling multiple briefs as well, I am going to need to use my time wisely, and make room for breaks, otherwise I think it will totally derail my ability to be creative. Hopefully doing this will allow me to create a space where I can make mistakes, while knowing that a schedule has accounted for the time. Essentially it would in theory give me alloted lengths of time where I have given myself permission to make mistakes.