Taking Creative Risks (I Was a Ninja Turtle)

I’ve been yapping about the creative industry and how to save it, so I won’t bore you with another essay on the same topic. This time around, I’d like to discuss the need to take creative risks.

Before I discuss the reasons why artists should take them, why do you think most won’t or don’t take risks? This is an easy two pronged answer: the fear of failure and the fear of ridicule. Naturally, we’re all afraid of trying something risky and landing face-first on the floor with an audience ready to point and laugh. Heck, when I was six-years-old, I decided to go to my primary school disco dressed as Donatello, from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and show off my ninja skills on the main stage. I thought I was the coolest kid in the world, even though the audience cried with laughter at my roundhouse kicks. 10 years (10 years!) after my one-man-action-show, I still had people coming up to me and laughing about my performance. Do I regret it? Would I go back and change it? I might laugh about how silly it was, but no.

I met the Turtles, though
I met the Turtles, though

You see, my Ninja Turtle episode taught me something important: nearly everyone will laugh at anyone who does something different and off the cuff. However, on the odd occasion, the risk pays off.

I look at the recent Tidal Wave project, which I was a part of, and how risky it seemed initially. What if people thought the story was lame? What if people thought it was a dumb idea? But then, I thought to myself, “If it’s hated, it’s hated. If you never write it, you won’t know.” In the end, it turned out to be a massive success for everyone, and the positive feedback has reinforced that the risk was worth taking.

Self-doubt can be a dangerous inhibitor. It turns into a fear of trying because of all the possible negative outcomes. So what if you fail? Will you die? Will it be the end of the world? When you think of it that way, you realise the only thing holding you back is yourself. Forget about the outcomes and focus on why you’re doing it. If it makes you happy, do it. If you’re doing it to make everyone like you, rather become a cult leader and brainwash your disciples into worshipping you.

Put away the doubts and fears, and take the leap into the exciting unknown. Be free and be adventurous. Go forth and create.

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