The Freelance Diaries: On Failure

The Freelance Diaries: Molly Jacques

As 2014 slowly comes to an end, I've been making it a point to really reflect on this past year. My ups, downs, and all the turns that made me step back and think "wow, being a freelancer is one exciting ride".

One aspect of myself that I've really reflected on is my relationship with fear in failure. This is some deeply rooted stuff if your career is based on getting consistent work. What if no one likes my ideas? What if I create something that I'm really excited about and get NO response? This also seeps into the work process between myself and clients. That moment when you send concept sketches off and as you hit the send button, your heart starts to race with fear that the client will hate what you did. This fear is amplified when your dream client comes knocking and you instantly think "OMG. Don't blow this, Molly".

What I'm getting at is that fear of failure as a creative freelancer is something that we all experience. It doesn't matter what level you're at or how often you're snagging jobs. It's always scary to put yourself out there and then wait for a response. I really love this quote by Marty Neumeier because I think it reflects the way I want to think about fear and failure. It gives me motivation to put my fears aside and move forward with ideas that might be unconventional. 

So I'll leave you with this: five ways to overcome your fear of failure in 2015:

1. Surround yourself with people who support you.

Artists are constantly under criticism. It's just a fact. You're always going to be having people tell you that your work isn't good or is a poor rendition of someone else. You'll have art directors turn you down. Job positions lost. IT WILL HAPPEN. Surround yourself with friends that support your pursuit. They will be honest with you and they will lift you up with kind words. They will cheer you on when you feel like you can't go on. When you surround yourself with people who support you, you'll be more confident to take risks because you know that if you fail, they will still love and support you just the same.

2. Take risks.

I know it's scary. I know how it feels to take a risk and then have it flop. But, you guys, taking risks is the only way to progress. To be a forerunner for new creative ideas and techniques. Remember, you have a support group that will love you even if your risk was totally stupid. So go buy some new art supplies today that you really don't know how to use. Try 'em out. Start brainstorming some crazy ideas. Remember, "To achieve originality we need to abandon the comforts of habit, reason, and the approval of our peers, and strike out in new directions."

3. Treat yourself kindly.

To be brave, you need to treat yourself kindly. You need to live a lifestyle that promotes your own well being. That means exercise, healthy eating, and a strong motivation towards mental well being. Get plenty of sleep. Don't party too hard. Set a reasonable work schedule. When you're confident in your own well being, this seeps into your work and ability to face fear.

4. Challenge yourself.

Challenge your abilities. This means trying something that scares you and pushing past what you think you can do. This might not have anything to do with art. This past  year, I've picked up rock climbing. I'm still not very good, but I've made it a point to push past what I think I can do. And you know what? I always surprise myself. I also have my husband there who challenges me to try things that I think I might not be able to do. That's my support group. I know if I fall, he will catch me. Rock climbing has turned into a symbol for me. It represents how I face fear in my life. I encourage all of you to try something that scares you.

5. Work hard.

Remember how I just said that setting a reasonable work schedule helps you face fear with more confidence? It's totally true. This means working hard, setting goals, and never slacking or complaining. It also means that when you're done with work, you are done. Work hard, and then relax. Get off your cellphone or social media. When you work a hard day, you can be confident that you tried your best and if you fail, you know it wasn't because you didn't try.


Now that I've shared how I face fear and failure, tell me how you do it. I know that every single person reading this right now has felt this. You're artists. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others and we're all totally nutso scared to take risks. Maybe you're still in a place where you haven't faced your fear. Just know, that we've all been there.