Friday, 26 February 2016

Creativity. Fun or Failure? Eloise Williams

I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity these past few days.


At the beginning of the year I went on a course to learn about how to be more creative in the classroom with Arts Council Wales. I’m lucky enough to run workshops for them to improve literacy through their Lead Creative Schools Scheme and this was a chance to meet up with other artists (of all kinds) and discuss what creativity meant to us and how we use it.

Firstly, let me assure you that not everyone turned up swathed in scarves, flouncing about telling people how brilliantly wonderful they were and calling everyone darling, love and sweet pea whilst demanding only orange Smarties in their dressing rooms. Nor did anyone turn up in a Rolls Royce, a Lamborghini, or a Winnebago though I think there were a few jalopy / banger drivers like myself.

Neither did anyone spend the whole time trying to sell their wares or bemoaning how little financial help is given to the arts (though I’ll have a moan here and say it isn’t enough by a long way!). It was a time for celebration, for thinking outside the box, no, I’ll correct that, it was a time for thinking as if the box didn’t even exist.        

I start my new job tomorrow working with a school in Swansea and even though I’ve been running workshops with young people for more than twenty years I am still nervous. A friend of mine recently asked if they could see one of my workshop plans and I had to admit that I don’t have any. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I don’t plan before a workshop, of course I do! I’d be an idiot to wing it, but every workshop is an adventure for me and I like to push my own creative boundaries so I always start with a clean slate. Of course I remember some things that worked well and also some things that didn’t – I’ve had a few absolute disasters over the years where young people have eyed me with disgust, amusement, suspicion, or even patted me on the arm and told me it’s okay – and I use lots of games and exercises repeatedly, but I also like to ask the question ‘What if?’

What if I tried this?

What if we made that?

What if it fails?

Fear of failure is a terrible stunt to Creativity. You have to fail. It’s part of it. How can you find out what works for you if you don’t find out what doesn’t?


It should be fun but if you can’t fall then you can’t fly.

Remember taking the stabilisers off your bike for the first time?  Remember the scratched knees? Remember the feeling of achievement? Freedom? Success? Sit down and think about things that mean a lot to you. Are they the things that came easily? Are they the things where you took a risk? Where you stretched yourself? Where you had to really work hard? For me it is a mixture of all types of things. Some came easier than others.

I don’t regret failing at things - though I will never be the angelic flautist I thought I would be.

The things I do regret are the opportunities I DIDN’T take because I was afraid of failing.


I want to learn to be more creative. Some people might think that by the ancient age of forty three and three-quarters I’d be done with learning. Not a bit of it. I learn all the time.

One of the best creative experiences I’ve had recently was in my kitchen filming these two, my husband and my niece, making a silly film.

They won’t thank me for sharing this picture but it was FUN and I learned that creativity just doesn’t happen without fun. It also doesn’t happen without failure. Their first nine or ten attempts at a film were quite a bit rubbish but they absolutely didn’t care. It was the creation that they took enjoyment in.   


And so my whimsical wonderings end here with the summation that creativity has to be a combination of fun and failure. It has to be. Doesn’t it? Does it? What do YOU think?




Sue Purkiss said...

Love this - and I think you owe it to the world to share the film!

Susan Price said...

Yes - good article. Because I'm contrary, I spent some time trying to imagine creativity that isn't fun... Just grim, practical problem solving creativity... And I concluded that you're right. Being creative is fun, by its nature. It can be quiet fun, absorbed and concentrating, or it can be loud and chattery and running about - but it is always fun. Because if it isn't, you aren't discovering anything, you're not interested, you're just plodding through a routine.

Thanks for reminding me of that.

Andrew Preston said...

“Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on. ”

- Billy Connolly

Penny Dolan said...

Inspiring post, Eloise!